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Staff reviews this month

Good or bad, here's what we think of this month's crop of new releases.

Shackleton
Furnace of Guts

Shackleton returns to his own Woe To The Septic Heart! label with his first solo material in a while. We get two cuts on this EP clocking in at a total of around twenty glorious minutes. ‘Furnace of Guts’ takes us on an outernational/intergalactic psychedelic journey as only Shackleton can. I defy any human to sit still while...view item »

Amnesia Scanner
Another Life

I was just about ready to fetch a pipe and slippers and retire to an old people's home after listening to Amnesia Scanner’s ‘Another Life’ for the first time. An album bursting with so much fresh, youthful energy and ideas that it made me feel positively ancient. I’m starting to get my head around it a wee bit more after ...view item »

Phillip Werren
Electronic Music

Early electronic music, noise and drone fiends; smash open your piggy banks and make some room on the shelf for this freakin' incredible 4LP reissue of Phillip Werren's Electronic Music. Yeah, I hear ya... we're swamped with reissues these days - endless supposed holy grail archive releases, but this... THIS is something else! Originally...view item »

Beneath
Cloudy

Happy to see Blackest Ever Black’s A14 sister label back in action with a plate from No Symbols/Mistry bossman Beneath. The first of two cyberdelic techno steppers is ‘Cloudy’ which has me imaging being on the dancefloor at a DMZ night, looking up at the DJ booth, only to discover the disc jockey is actually none other ...view item »

Pessimist
SPRTLZM / SCIFI

Pessimist slaughters us with these two scowling breakbeat monsters mutated from the DNA of darkside D&B and launched back from the future like a pair of homing missiles straight to the dome. Ominous, trouser flapping subs, abyssal drones and decapitating breaks wed in perfect harmony, bringing strong vibes of the futurism of ye olde Virus Re...view item »
12" (£8.99) is now sold out, sorry.
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Rabit
Life After Death

The cut-up and collaged Mandala that adorns the sleeve of Rabit’s ‘Life After Death’ echoes the sonics within - probing at spiritual realms, metaphysics and worlds beyond the reality of here and now. It sounds like it could almost be a journal of entheogen induced psychedelic near-death experiences i.e Ayahuasca or DMT. Rabit&r...view item »

The Lotus Eaters
Desatura

Rrose and Lucy open up a vortex with a gravity-defying long-player that has us well and truly lost in space. The duo has previously collaborated for a pair of EPs on each other's respective labels; Eaux and Stroboscopic Artefacts, and have now fully adopted The Lotus Eaters handle for this collaboration. If you were into the aforementioned EPs t...view item »

Spiritflesh
Spiritflesh

Spiritflesh aka Julian Raymond-Smith (DJ October) and Boris English (Borai) were seemingly educated at The Bristol School of Dub and graduate with techniques they utilize at the University of Industrial Technoise Doom - their thesis, this heavy LP of darkside meditations on life, death and Bardo states. The pair shred, crush and skank through ei...view item »
LP (£14.99) is now sold out, sorry.
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The Caretaker
Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stage 5

The Caretaker’s epic ‘Everywhere At The End Of Time’ series depicting the onset of dementia has recently taken on an entirely new emotional and deeply personal resonance with me. My Grandfather (we call him Papa as is the way in Scotland) was diagnosed with this horrendous disease and the onset has been far more rapid than the ...view item »

Lindsay Clark
Crystalline

It's quite obvious that Lindsay Clark grew up in the mountains. Her voice flows as if it's water tumbling down rocks and glinting in the sun. Her gentle melodies incorporate finger picked mountain folk into her balladry. The chitter chatter of picked acoustic guitar joined by lush strings on the opener 'Grow' and gentle piano on 'Deliver Me', th...view item »

Jim Ghedi & Toby Hay
The Hawksworth Grove Sessions

Phenomenally perhaps, these incredibly pretty sounds were made in Leeds. A city known for it's concrete and ill-advised high rise towers has spawned some decent music in it's time but not much of it sounds as pretty as running water down a mountainside. If push comes to a shove my favourite Leeds sound is the noise the 4.56 train to Skipton make...view item »

Hairband
Hairband

If you want to feel good then go to Glasgow. On my last visit - despite it raining and me getting stuck in traffic - I got such a good feeling off the place. This was, admittedly, partly to do by my attending a dog disco but still, it's just a good place for the soul. Pretty happy about things too are Hairband whose liner notes on this, their de...view item »

Insecure Men
Karaoke for One: Vol. 1

It seems all you have to do to get media attention these days is to have been a former member of the Fat White Family.....or make oh-so-ironic covers albums or, preferably like Insecure Men do both.  Here are the toothless twosome with an improbably ridiculous romp through songs by the Carpenters, the Pogues, Bruce Springsteen and P...view item »

Medicine Boy
Lower

Bad news for me as due to our Robin's departure I can't just chuck all the Fuzz Club records and assorted psych rock in his pile and let him deal with it. Good news for me is that this latest record on the imprint isn't the usual psych rock fayre and instead an eerier proposition marrying the kind of balladry performed by the likes of PJ Harvey ...view item »

Lights On Moscow
Aorta Songs - Part 1

Lights on Moscow was made by Newcastle-Upon-Tyne near neighbours Hazel Wilde (Lanterns on the Lake) and Justin Lockey (Editors, Minor Victories) etc. But it was ages ago that they bunkered down in Seaton Sluice or wherever to record this and they've only just got round to releasing it. And it's really short at just 15 minutes but opener 'Lord Le...view item »

Minus The Bear
Fair Enough

Always leave them with an EP. I think a EP is a nice way to close off a career  - a little taster of what might have come had they bothered to stick together. Though on Suicide Squeeze and therefore easy fodder to band around Death Cab For Cutie comparisons, Minus the Bear have a more grandiose stadium emo theme to them. I'd like the title ...view item »

Blue Orchids
Righteous Harmony Fist

One plus point of the demise of Mark E Smith could be that without the Fall's prodigious output we may start to listen closer to some of the bands who splintered off them. One of the most talented former the Fall members was Martin Bramah who in one of the odder decisions by the erstwhile former leader was frozen out of the Fall not once but thr...view item »

John Grant
Love Is Magic

To all of those people who thought John Grant was underrated in his the Czars and 'Queen of Denmark' days....well are you satisfied now? All that whingeing about underrated this, and undervalued that has led sadly to this. The most self absorbed album of all time. It's careful for what you wish for territory I suppose. Personally I never...view item »

XTC
Skylarking

Todd Rundgren has done many awful things in his time, one of which wasn't his production on this 1986 era XTC album in which the band and he fought throughout.  Sure the 'song cycle' idea may not be the best idea (rarely does an album with songs blending into each other work), but the songs themselves and the orchestral arrangements? Magnif...view item »

Cloud Nothings
Last Building Burning

The next few weeks are going to be a nightmare for my ears. You see we have lost our regular churn expert Robin and so lost about 4346778965 words per week on releases like this from Really Noisy Bands I don't understand. Cloud Nothings proudly describe this as their loudest record yes and yes it's bloody noisy. Guitars are set to 5776 and the p...view item »

Jerry Paper
Like A Baby

Should we need any more hazy LA soft top down wobbly retro pop in the style of Mac deMarco and Homeshake then here comes Jerry Paper to deliver. His debut solo album is full of laid back songwriting mainly based around what appears to be a 1980s casio keyboard. He has a nice solid croon on him that veers nicely into falsetto from time to time.&n...view item »

Kurt Vile
Bottle It In

I came up with an idea yesterday. That we all only have a certain amount of words we can speak per day. If you go over your limit you have to pay to top them up. It would certainly stop people like Mark Kozelek..... .....and as it turns out Kurt Vile. For Vile has gone down the Kozelek road to wittering endlessly about his day. Most nota...view item »

Daniel Brandt
Channels

Daniel Brandt caught my ear with his stunning 2017 album Eternal Something which you should of course check out at the first opportunity. Once you've done that you should move straight on to this 2018 effort which is just impressive.  Brandt uses skittering polyrhythmic percussion and synth arpeggios to build up compositions that ha...view item »

Connan Mockasin
Jassbusters

After the high water peak of Forever Dolphin Love, 70s lounge lizard Connan Mockasin has become a rather difficult artist to love. That album was a superb journey through a strange kind of underwater soulful pop with an eerie sound that is rarely tapped into in rocks rich tapestry. Perhaps the irritating thing about Mockasin since is that he's b...view item »

Haley
Pleasureland

It's been quite the ride for the former Haley Bonar. From staying on my sofa whilst touring the UK in the mid 2000s (have I mentioned that before?) to being closely related to the Minnesotan likes of Low to becoming a breakout alt country star with the 6 Music playlisted 'Last War'.  Every time you think you have her pegged she seems to up ...view item »

Velvet Crush
In The Presence Of Greatness

I loved Ric Menck and Paulie Chastain's early twee-pop groups Choo Choo Train, the Springfields and if you haven't heard the latter's solo LP 'Halo' then...well you should.  So I was pretty excited when in 1991 they got together with guitarist Jeffrey Borchardt (of Honeybunch) to form Velvet Crush but then was left horrified by...view item »

Adrianne Lenker
Abysskiss

Being in my mid 40s I can't seem to cope with Adrianne Lenker's ever changing hairstyles. Google image her and you'll see a suedehead, long trusses and a kind of mid range effort. It's of no importance really but means I don't quite know how to picture her which has lead to a certain ambiguity to this, her first solo record away from the la...view item »

Nathan Bowles
Plainly Mistaken

Nathan Bowles plays the banjo. We know that. He plays it pretty nicely indeed creating lovely simple things based around its plucking. This is the first time he's used a full band to expand his sound and it yields mixed results. Some of the pieces are like Bowles of old, just simple banjo lines intertwining and these like 'Umbra' are really nice...view item »

Motorama
Many Nights

Well it looks like Motorama have cheered up since the last time I heard them. They still have that dreamy Field Mice sound but have lost some of the early '80s doom mongering. Russia's finest indie-pop band are in a fluffy mood on pleasant opener 'Second Part' which is the sort of dreamy indie you hear coming out of the Captured Tracks stable an...view item »

Swearin'
Fall Into the Sun

I tried to review this yesterday but I got so annoyed by the first track that I went off to have my dinner. Today, realising that I'm going to have to review it I have a cunning ploy... I'm starting at track 2.  And now I can see why our description writer has compared this three piece to the twin 'v' bands of Wavves and Alvvays. Th...view item »

Molly Burch
First Flower

The big question is how do Pitchfork cope? With so many singer songwriters that sound the same I mean.  One after the other it's been today, reasonably melodic, pretty nice variations on a theme. Molly Burch is another and she can be separated out by her slightly jazzy vocal style and almost French accented way of singing. Her songs her chi...view item »

Madeline Kenney
Perfect Shapes

After her rather lovely self produced debut Night Night at the First Landing, Madeline Kenney steps up the ante making a posher but more boring follow up produced by Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak. As with all second albums that follow the tried and tested route to success, this sandpapers off the interesting components of the debut, leaving w...view item »

Cursive
Vitriola

Oh where the hell is Robin when you need him? He knows emo. He knows what they shout. He knows why they get so emotional. I own one Cursive single which I actually really like but I have no idea about the ins and outs of their back catalogue.  After some time away they've come back to shout loudly presumably about Trump. It's a vici...view item »

Cat Power
Wanderer

I was just re-reading my review of Cat Power's last album 'Sun' which I concluded with "on this evidence, she should not be allowed anywhere near the producers chair again". Well she's ignored my advice and is back producing her records herself but luckily this time she leaves off the whistles and bells that made that such a cluttered affair.&nb...view item »

Matt Berry
Television Themes

Remember Are You Being Served? Great theme tune that. Ronnie Hazelhurst wasn't it?  Remember The Good Life? Two little birds on the opening credits, like an egg hatching. Penelope Keith and her souffle's.  Remember Blankety Blank? Classic Hazelhurst. Sort of like Steve Reich with a bit of Stereolab thrown in. Les Dawson...view item »

Kristin Hersh
Possible Dust Clouds

Not really a massive fan of Throwing Muses so I don't know how that is going to affect what I'm going to say but I really like this Kristin Hersh album. We've played it several times in the office and although one person asked for it to be turned off immediately, I think most of us have been secretly enjoying it.  Like our office it...view item »

Tim Cohen
The Modern World

A billion or so Fresh & Onlys albums down the line Tim Cohen once again finds a solo vehicle for his relentless creativity. Luckily there's not much of the 50s inspired rock and roll here that allowed his previous 'Magic Trick' album to plod somewhat, this is further example of his rather laissez faire attitude to songwriting. He sort o...view item »

XTC
Apple Venus Vol. I

Welcome to my actual favourite album of all time. Well certainly my favourite album of all time that has two or three songs that I don't like. The quality of the good stuff on this record is so high that they could have had a track of them eating pizza and it wouldn't dent the overall quality.  You see not only was 'Apple Venus' XTC...view item »

Marissa Nadler
For My Crimes

I wonder what Marissa Nadler has done in order for her to spout out these murder ballads. She hasn't actually gone and murdered someone has she? Or has she simply unfriended Phil from Facebook and is feeling pretty bad about it.  You'll find it hard to hear a sadder album all year. Nadler is very obvious about her troubles. There's ...view item »

Christine and The Queens
Chris

I remember watching Christine and the Queens on Glastonbury and wondering what the hell all the fuss was about. What I saw was monstrous but I must have been alone as the last album sold millions. Now back with an album of catchy electro pop that if it were 1987 would definitely be seen on the Chart Show each week.  The vibe here is...view item »

The Field
Infinite Moment

Dear readers, I'm desperate. Desperate for some music to mean something. At least the Field is trying to soothe our senses a bit. We could all do with a bit of escapism right?  It's a pleasant burst of synthetic techno with some transcendent moments which rise above the standard four/four clunk fayre of the myriad of other dubbified...view item »

Suede
The Blue Hour

What the hell is this?  I've never heard anything as pompous as the first track 'As One' a ridiculously frilly be-choired, be orchestrated slab of utter nonsense that seems to serve as a moat to the album allowing you past to enjoy any charms that can be found within. Be patient though because 'Wastelands' is better  - well at ...view item »

Parquet Courts
Wide Awake Remixes

Without becoming a total parody of myself here, I didn't really like the last Parquet Courts album. It was on in the office and just really annoyed me. But music critics everywhere and our Robin here thought it was good so what do I know? Nothing. This follow up record is one of those times where record companies try to make guitar bands dancefl...view item »
12" (£7.49) is now sold out, sorry.
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Amber Arcades
European Heartbreak

Music is such a slow thing isn't it? How many listens before you dismiss an album. At first I thought this was terrible and boring but repeated listens are certainly helping it escape the wrath of my pen. Dutch national Annelotte de Graaf returns to her Amber Arcades project which yielded a pretty decent (and decently pretty) debut in 2016 ...view item »

Robert Rental
Different Voices For You, Different Colours For Me. Demos 1980

Robert Rental was an underground artist who worked primarily in the post punk era and was notable for being in the Normal with Daniel Miller. Only one single of his solo work was released and the rest remained out of sight from the public. For fans the rediscovery of these recordings will be most exciting I'd imagine. Though to the first time li...view item »

Hater
Siesta

Perhaps a limit should be put on how quickly a band can rise to prominence. Hater only started in 2016 and already they are on their second album. Is this enough time to properly develop their sound and write enough decent songs in order not to waste everyone's time? Well they are assured certainly. They play a pretty brand of Swede-pop that wil...view item »

Patrick R. Pärk
Library Sounds

Well this is a surprise. Ever since the release of the Netflix Corporation’s Stranger Things there’s been an awful deluge of music trying to its very best to get fans of the show to buy it. Believe me, I work in a record store, there’s way too much of the stuff. So when I say, I quite like ...view item »

Hibernis
Middle Of The Meds

It’s easy to lose yourself in the middle of winter. The days are short and the nights are long and cold. Without something to focus on it’s easy to disappear inside the darkness. To prevent this ambient musician John Hughes set out to create a work that had a meditative quality, that he could fo...view item »

Francis Plagne
Moss Trumpet

The creative process behind Francis Pagne’s ‘Moss Trumpet’ is described in its press release as being, in part, semi-random. I think this is a response to Plagne's own musical. history. On previous releases Plagne worked with the more song-like, the more str...view item »

Matthew Dear
Bunny

I’ve always found Matthew Dear’s music improbably sexy. It’s so close to being sleazy and ridiculous, but he holds it together with real assuredness that makes his performances read as sincere. And yeah, his new album 'Bunny', is sexy too. It’s mostly in how he treats his voice. For the ...view item »

Upper Wilds
Mars

Noise pop is a peculiar thing. Why bother coming up with hummable melodies if you’re just going to stomp on whatever distortion pedals you happen to have you in the room? It seems counterintuitive but it works, and it certainly works on Upper Wilds’ ‘Mars’. There’s something so pote...view item »

FARAO
Pure-O

Ahh, ambitious Scandinavian pop music. Nothing quite like it. I’m convinced the never ending deluge that now counts Farao among its number is some sort of propaganda by the governments of the region to make their countries seem cool, interesting and genuine. Though she now lives in Berlin, Faroa is most assuredl...view item »

Yves Tumor
Safe In The Hands of Love

The looped horns that open ‘Safe In The Hands of Love’ don’t really tell you much about what the rest of the album. What they do tell you is that Yves Tumor has the capacity to find and hone in on moments of genuine beauty. The album title claims that you’ll be ‘Safe In The H...view item »

Arek Gulbenkoglu
A gift like a hollow vessel

Esperanto was a language created in the late 19th Century. Its creator L. L. Zamenhof, designed it to be easy to learn, in the hopes that it would become the world’s second language and improve understanding between different cultures. Esperanto has not caught on. But it has caught the ear of Melbourne based artist Arek Gulbenkoglu. To tho...view item »

Go March
II

There’s this old saying you might have heard. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And Go March certainly ain’t broke. In the same way your more conventional bands have stuck with verse-chorus-verse since time immemorial, there’s a reason instrumental post-rockers tend to lean on a steady b...view item »

CHAI
PINK

Chai are cute and they’re proud of it. The four-piece of two identical twins and two close fiends from Nagoya, Japan are committed to it. It’s their ideology, their aesthetic and their colour palette. You only need to look at the song names like ‘Hi Hi Baby’ and ‘She is Kitty’ t...view item »

Marie Davidson
Working Class Woman

EBM is a genre that’s always had a very close relationship to industrial music, and therefore to work. Industrial music’s aim is to find catharsis in the crushing repetition of working. EBM then, is it’s more hedonistic cousin. On Working Class Woman, Ma...view item »

Kode9 & Burial
FABRICLIVE 100

FabricLive 1 was released 3rd December 2001. I had no idea what Fabric was, and the closest to clubbing my 7 year old self had been was watching the death sticks scene from The Phantom Menace. On it, Mo’ Wax’s James Lavelle mixed together ...view item »

Max Ananyev
Water Atlas

Trust. You can trust Max Ananyev -- probably in many situations, no doubt -- but most pertinently, here, with ambient quietude. You can trust Max -- a Russian ambient musician, in case you were wondering -- to be influenced by, and to quote Russian philosophers. In this case 20th century philosopher Alexei Losev...view item »

epic45
Through Broken Summer

Oh, this is classic epic45. Just like previous transmissions from planet epic45, this is a sound-world all on its own; by which I mean a world quite distinct from -- and extant on a plane parallel to -- the one we bumble about on as mere mortals. Trying to navigate this Post-Truth world is tricky enough. So here: have some pastoral sounds to mak...view item »

The KVB
Only Now Forever

The KVB are one of those bands who have finally reached the word-jumble era of their career: they’ve been prolific and steadfast enough that I dare not look back on my old reviews of their work for fear I’m going to find myself repeating the same jokes and tropes in describing them. Darkwave relative to Geoff Barrow’s Invada im...view item »

Mount Eerie
(after)

This live performance comes in the midsts of Mount Eerie’s two records ‘A Crow Looked At Me’ and ‘Now Only’, which you’re probably well aware of by now. Majestic and devastating, these records got painfully close with grief, Phil Elverum moving away from his elemental and metaphorical songwriting style to crea...view item »

Fucked Up
Dose Your Dreams

Probably my favourite memory of Leeds Rock Life™ was seeing a triple biller of Metz, Titus Andronicus and Fucked Up at the Brudenell. I know, I’m hot garbage, but hear me out: at the time me and my two best friends were all in love with one band a piece, so while waiting for our favourite to come on, we were riding a contact high to ...view item »

Sandro Perri
In Another Life

On ‘In Another Life’, experimental songwriter Sandro Perri has attempted to stretch pop music beyond its means, destroying one of its core principles -- that it’s temporal, and usually three minutes temporal -- and suggesting that it could go on forever. With three chords, several dozen verses and a few underhand music...view item »

David Nance Group
Peaced and Slightly Pulverized

Who wants a bunch of jaunty, overtly American shouting? Do I ever have the rec for you: it’s ‘Peaced and Slightly Pulverized’, and let me tell you that the album title is aggressively appropriate. With a bit of punkish twang, blown out hard rock and psychedelic downtime, the David Nance Group create a kind of freak out that&rsq...view item »

Valley Maker
Rhododendron

What’s all this, then, a press release that name-checks Bill Fay in the obligatory ‘influences’ section? I’ll take that; I’ll take all of that. Valley Maker is the recording project of Austin Crane and his band, and it sounds instantly familiar, an uncanny collation of slick, electrified Americana guided by the brok...view item »

Goatman
Rhythms

Goatman throws throwing caution to the wind to the wind once more with another reinvention of the Goat sound. Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know, this is the dude from Swedish quasi-mystery Goat, who were once a psychedelic noise outfit but have since become something of a party band. In an obnoxious and snide move, whoever this Goatman is h...view item »

Macintosh Plus
Floral Shoppe

It’s cosmically hypocritical of me to get all nostalgic and pine for a time when vaporwave was good, but here we are. The rapid rate of art production has moved the genre on faster than it had time to react -- since the onset of its memory and things like Simpsonswave, the genre’s broader aesthetic has dispersed and been spread more ...view item »
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Jlin
Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor's Autobiography)

Whatever your beat is, and whether or not it’s the fervent footwork of emerging genius Jlin, this is a staggering release. ‘Autobiography’ is the soundtrack to a performance piece made in collaboration with Wayne McGregor, a choreographer, which debuted at Unsound, everyone’s favourite festival of bass-intensive experimen...view item »

Mudhoney
Digital Garbage

Mark Arm’s proposed thesis for ‘Digital Garbage’ was something like “What If I Made a Mudhoney Record But All The Lyrics Were About Good Times At The Beach In The Sunshine?”, but then he realised he couldn’t because it didn’t capture the mood of our times, and so the lyric central to the chorus of the al...view item »

Tashi Wada With Yoshi Wada & Friends
FRKWYS Vol. 14 – Nue

Bagpipes, though. You heard these things? Absolutely nuts. Not so if you’re Yoshi Wada, the legendary drone hero who’s been making music whatever way suits him for a very long time. So long that he has a son. Who is also a composer. What goes around comes around like father like son to me to you. In a collaboration to out-dad all dad...view item »

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
King of Cowards

The band that’s effectively Babe watched seven times in a row by a psychedelically tired parent who can now see through time, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are still slinging mud and rocking hard on this, their second record. ‘How very Rocket’, I sneer like a movie villain as I listen to their guitar-rotting stoner chug. I...view item »

Tim Hecker
Konoyo

Bloody Tim, he just does it, doesn’t he. Every time I read a completely baseless interview with him or watch him performing in the dark as if it’s some kind of radical act, I want to renounce Hecker and all his works -- every time I listen to him, though, I just start clapping and crying instead. Case in point: I thought it was utter...view item »

Thelonious Monk
Mønk

I’m going to assume I don’t need to tell you that a live set from Thelonious Monk is very good indeed. ‘Mønk’ is from back in his days of trailblazing with the line-up of drummer Frankie Dunlop (who also played with Mingus, Rollins and other legends), saxophonist Charlie Rouse and double bassist John Ore. One of hi...view item »