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Weekly Update Embrace, Hood, Suzanne Ciani / Clone, Teebs, X-TG, and more...

Well would you look at us - we are nearly 18! Hooray! We'll be able go to the pub at last. More on our birthday celebrations - and two very special competitions - below...

First up, though, it's been a week with plenty of nice items for those not saving every penny towards Record Store Day. Here's a quick round-up of what’s been going down at the Towers.

The fantastic new album from Protomartyr was a winner all round with its catchy take on ‘90s noisy slacker indie rawk; Animal Collective’s Avey Tare has a solo jam out full of his particular brand of bonkers pop; Downliners Sekt do a great line in late night Burial-like soundscapes; Ellis Island Sound are back with a new album heading off into a kraut/afro rock direction; and Squarepusher’s amazing computer assisted LP is out. Not for the faint-hearted.

If that's all a bit much, try the soothing Teebs album which floats along in a Bibio style; Field Music lad School of Language teases us with another album of...um...Field Music-like twisty pop; nice-to-have gentle singer-songwriter Diane Cluck is back too with her first album in seven years; and Orcas feature Benoit Pioulard and Rafael Anton Irisarri combining to make an album of droney and shuffly dreampop.

Riff doctors Holy Mountain provide us with a heady prescription of bombastic stoner rock; there’s an album of gospel versions of Bob Dylan songs by The Brothers and Sisters; whilst more archive stuff of a completely different nature comes from John Lacey and Coum Transmissions - an abbreviated version of a performance that droned on for 12 hours.

On an electronic tip...HTRK sneak out another album of alluring, sultry, narcotic pop music and there's dark bass-heavy action from Killing Sound. There's some superb FUN 303 wizardry from Luke Vibert; a madcap album of strange advert jingles and synth experiments from Suzanne Ciani/Clone; and a weird and beautiful re-issue from Ingram Marshall on the label who brought you that recent Arthur Russell re-issue.

What else? Strange MBV-esque churnings from Sketches for Albinos; Inventions feature an Eluvium and an Explosions in the Sky; there are a couple of Bardo Pond re-issues; and if all this murk and drone is too much try the West African highlife, disco, & psychedelic electro soul of Ibibio Sound Machine or even Todd Terje’s bouncy album of disco fun.

Now for a few things we didn’t get time to review. The latest work from Florian Hecker is released on Editions Mego; there’s an assortment of girlie tracks from the 1960s on ‘Hey Lover Boy’ (including Dolly Parton); The Faint have a new one out called ‘Doom Abuse’; Gezan make noisy outbursts comparable to the Boredoms; and we have the fourth installment of the re-issue programme of ‘Harry Smith’s American Folk Music’. Bavaria is a collab between John Tejada and Kimi Recor, and there’s a Various Artists 12" on Bangers and Ash including Samuel Kerridge, Clay Wilson and Jahiliyya Fields remixes. Finally, there’s a coupla tapes on Obsolete Units, The Tenses and Guzo on one and Zaimph and Yek Koo on the other.

Phew. Happy dayzzzz....

Now read on for the birthday competitions!

Love

Clint and Team Norm
xx


Norman Records - celebrating 18 years on this planet

Happy Birthday to us! Happy Birthday to us!

Yup, as of April 5th 2014 Norman Records turns 18. As we are now adults you can expect much less of the foolish dicking about you've maybe come to expect. From now on it's all straight-down-the-line, corporate. Grown-up. Serious face.

And to mark the arrival of this new, responsible, mature Norman Records we're...giving away beer.

Norman Records 18th Birthday Competition #1
We're giving away five crates of Norman Records branded beer, courtesy of Revolutions Brewing Co. Simply place an order on the site before 5pm on Friday 9th May. That's it.

Norman Records 18th Birthday Competition #2
Now, we don't currently have any labels for our beer. But that's where you come in. Design a label for us and you could win a £100 voucher and a crate of said beer. Closing date for this one is also Friday 9th May.

More details over on the site. Please make sure you read 'em before entering!

We're also celebrating 18 years of reviews

Now, as most of you should already know we have always tried to provide honest and trustworthy reviews. It started out with staff shouting across the room as Phil typed up their comments. Nowadays it's a big part of the day job, with us lowly scribes working against the odds to review as wide a selection as we can of the myriad records we get in each week.

And that's not all: these days you - our loyal customers - are more heavily involved than ever, which makes things even more fun.

We like to think people enjoy this service, and that it beats the robotic press release transcriptions offered elsewhere. We also feel that much of the UK music press, with honourable exceptions, is a bit of closed shop - tied up by secretive deals and run by incestuous London backstabbers. Do you trust what they say, really?

We ain't perfect though. We get things hopelessly wrong sometimes, have run-ins with people we genuinely respect, and just generally upset folk. Sometimes we don't really have to do anything other than sit back with the proverbial popcorn and watch the customer (or PR team) reviews come in. And sometimes we just like taking the piss.

Anyway, here are 18 highlights and lowlights of the 24,277 staff and customer reviews on our site at the time of writing:


Best records this week

According to our review team at least...

Arc Iris

Arc Iris

9/10 from ReviewBot300

Arc Iris is Jocie Adams from The Low Anthem, a multi-instrumentalist with a sweet and high pitched voice who here guides us through a selection of smooth and relaxing folky ch...read on »

Causa Sui

Summer Sessions Vol 1-3

9/10 from Mike

Someone in the office made Phil listen to the new Causa Sui triple LP from start to finish in one sitting. "It made me feel like I was going insane," said the notorious saxoph...read on »

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

Piñata

9/10 from ReviewBot300

Yes, this is the real shit here. Hip hop royalty Madlib's collaboration with wordsmith Freddie Gibbs have teased us with a couple of EPs already which were more tantalising th...read on »

Protomartyr

Under Color of Official Right

9/10 from ReviewBot300

This is the second album from Detroit's post-punky indie rockers Protomartyr and their first on Hardly Art. A few friends of mine have already been making excited noises about...read on »

The Brothers & Sisters

Dylan's Gospel

9/10 from ReviewBot300

I'm enjoying an uplifting start to the day courtesy of this superb reissue on Light in the Attic. The concept is pretty self-explanatory - a team of LA's finest session singer...read on »

Holy Mountain

Ancient Astronauts

9/10 from Mike

The mind-bending future pop of Islaja's latest offering just had me come over all weird but I'm re-fortifying myself now with a dose of hot coffee and my latest prescription o...read on »

HTRK

Psychic 9-5 Club

9/10 from Ant

A few weeks ago I’d been playing HTRK’s 2011 album ‘Work, Work, Work’ and was thinking to myself “Shit this lot must be due for a new album soon&...read on »

Suzanne Ciani / Clone

Logo Presentation Reel 1985 (Instrumentals) / Octabred

9/10 from Li'l Biz

SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT RELEASE! I’d like to think that Suzanne Ciani needs no introduction, so much so I’m not going to give you one. Wiki her you lazy Normanites. Her...read on »

Ingram Marshall

Fog Tropes / Gradual Requiem

9/10 from Mike

I haven't encountered the work of Ingram Marshall before but this label's last reissue was Arthur Russell so they have my attention here. On this LP is a shortish piece called...read on »

Ibibio Sound Machine

Ibibio Sound Machine

9/10 from Mike

Fronted by British/Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams, Ibibio Sound Machine combine, so says their press release, "elements of West African highlife, disco, & psychedelic elec...read on »

Roladex

Anthems For The Micro-Age

8/10 from ReviewBot300

First up in my Friday review pile is this LP by Roladex, a modern synthpop duo armed with an impressive arsenal of classic synths. You can tell they're very proud of them beca...read on »

M83

You And The Night

8/10 from ReviewBot300

Here's M83's second dalliance with film soundtracking after Anthony Gonzalez's pounding score to blockbuster Tom Cruise vehicle 'Oblivion', but it's very different to that sle...read on »

The Callas

Am I Vertical?

8/10 from ReviewBot300

I'm quite enjoying this LP of crunchy art rock from Greek brother-led noise-pop outfit The Callas. It's not their first but it's the first I've heard. They mix simple, pretty ...read on »

Royal Blood

Little Monster

8/10 from ReviewBot300

I just had to put up with an horrific synth-based Nirvana cover on the last single I reviewed, so it's nice to have some proper old fashioned rock on this one. Royal Blood aim...read on »

Cloud Nothings

Here and Nowhere Else

8/10 from ReviewBot300

Cloud Nothings' previous album 'Attack on Memory' was notable in my mind not just because it's excellent but also because it was the first record of the current grunge revival...read on »

Killing Joke

In Dub

8/10 from ReviewBot300

Post-punk legends Killing Joke have compiled their favourite dub mixes from throughout their 35-year career on this mammoth 3CD collection I'm listening to now. It's pretty mu...read on »

Dillon

The Unknown

8/10 from Mike

The office post-it imp has been at it again, this time emblazoning the front of the new Dillon album with a sticker saying "Really good Klima/Bjork electronic/female". I have ...read on »

Judson Claiborne

Time and Temperature

8/10 from ReviewBot300

I have a curious LP here from Chicago act Judson Claiborne. Confusingly, the press release for their previous offering describes them as a "band" fronted by Christopher Salvet...read on »

Eye (NZ)

Winterwork

8/10 from ReviewBot300

When Phil hands me something and says it's "experimental" and "might be a bit difficult" it sets the alarm bells going that it's going to be that guy who eats glass or someone...read on »

Diane Cluck

Boneset

8/10 from Clinton

Long time no see. I remember the Cluckster from back in the day when if Devandra Banhart said something, then people listened and the bearded Bolan certainly had some good thi...read on »

Sketches For Albinos

Fireworks and the Dead City Radio

8/10 from Clinton

Wow. Mini 50 have really gone to town with the packaging here. Its in a beautifully bound LP, lord only knows what’s inside but it looks so nice that we dare not open it...read on »

Dauwd

Kindlinn

8/10 from Clinton

Lydia oh Lydia. No its not the Groucho Marx one but the samesake track here is just as tuneful. The press release describes it as romantic techno which I like the sound of. C...read on »

Jesse Sparhawk / Eric Carbonara

Tributes & Diatribes

8/10 from Clinton

In hapless record store incident no 18534, Phil passes this to me saying it ‘probably’ something to do with Alan Sparhawk, its his wife or daughter or summat. Well...read on »

Christopher Bissonnette

Essays In Idleness

8/10 from ReviewBot300

Canada's Christopher Bissonnette has opted to limit himself to a single home-built synth on this hazy LP of languorous drones and tones, in search of, in his own words, "a mor...read on »

Steve Gunn & Mike Gangloff

Melodies For A Savage Fix

8/10 from ReviewBot300

Avantmericana axeman Steve Gunn goes head to head with experimental weirdo Mike Gangloff here for five lengthy and meditative duets featuring the former on six- and twelve-str...read on »

Eric Thielemans

Sprang

8/10 from ReviewBot300

There are taps and dinks and flaps and bings galore on this new LP from experimental Belgian percussionist Eric Thielemans. He has a strangely intuitive and very minimal style...read on »

Downliners Sekt

Silent Ascent

8/10 from Clinton

Its a million o’clock at night and you are driving down some rain-seeped boulevard, the yellow of the lamp lights strain and stretch as the rain pours down the windscree...read on »

Orcas

Yearling

8/10 from Mike

The super-duo of Thomas "Benoit Pioulard" Meluch and Rafael Anton Irisarri are back with a second collaboration this week. I thought it was going to be full-on instrumental dr...read on »

The Shivas

You Make Me Wanna Die / Whiteout and So Far Out of Control

8/10 from Mike

Nice little single here from the mighty K Records from The Shivas. It's a slinky bit of tropical indie rock'n'roll complete with hi-gain vocals and handclaps and a twangy slig...read on »

Islaja

S U U

8/10 from Mike

Finnish composer/producer Islaja takes a bit of a U-turn this week with her fifth album 'SUU' shifting from the folk-influenced pop of previous releases into a dark and skewed...read on »

Teebs

E s t a r a

8/10 from Ian

LA producer and artist Mtendere Mandowa hits us with his latest full length on Brainfeeder Records, following on from the brilliant ‘Ardour’ released way back in 2...read on »

Squarepusher x Z-Machines

Music for Robots

8/10 from Ian

If you’ve seen the video for this on Youtube then you’ll know all about it but for those of you that don’t here’s a quick summary, Kenjiro Matsuo and a...read on »

Jan St. Werner

Split Animal Sculpture

8/10 from Mike

Jan St Werner of Mouse on Mars notoriety is getting arty on this new 10", which is beautifully presented with a numbered insert, an actual photograph, and most excitingly of a...read on »

Ukkonen

Aika EP

8/10 from Mike

Finnish producer Ukkonen has a new 12" out this week with a lengthy composition on each side. On the first we have 'Luomus', a shimmering bit of euphoric dronework with a soft...read on »

Tall Ships

Tall Ships EP / There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here

8/10 from Mike

Here's an LP which collects both of Tall Ships' first two EPs onto a single handy package, showing why everyone got so excited about them in the first place while simultaneous...read on »

Killing Sound

Killing Sound

8/10 from Ant

Had this double pack come out in 1993 it might have had one of those “DJ friendly vinyl” stickers on the sleeve. 4 tracks over the 4 sides cut loud at 45rpm. I alw...read on »

Luke Vibert

Ridmik

8/10 from Li'l Biz

After spinning ‘Ridmik’ for a month or so now I’m kicking myself for neglecting the talents of Luke Vibert and his many pseudonyms (Amen Andrews/Kerrier Dist...read on »

Man Forever (with So Percussion)

Ryonen

8/10 from Li'l Biz

John Colpitt’s (a.k.a Kid Millions) is a truly awesome drummer. If you’ve ever heard Adhesive X, Pocket Monster, Oneida or Soldiers Of Fortune (or perhaps on of hi...read on »

Beisspony

Brush Your Teeth

8/10 from Mike

Munich duo Beisspony have an LP of quirky experimental pop here. The first thing I'm reminded of is CocoRosie - this is very melodic and playful music with a very clear sense ...read on »

Andrzej Korzynski / Awkward Corners

SOS / The Sweet Decay

8/10 from Li'l Biz

Another great double header from Disposable music, this time featuring recordings by The Sweet Decay (a.k.a Sound Of Water/Paradise Bangkok compiler Chris Menist) and a soundt...read on »

Made To Break

Cherchez la femme

8/10 from Mike

Here's a pretty crazy LP from sax wizard Ken Vandermark's latest project, an electro acoustic whirlwind of bouncy and melodic free jazz and minimal electronic experimentation....read on »

Saaad

Deep / Float

8/10 from Mike

Saaad. That's the name of a drone band if I ever did hear one. And yes, that's what's on this record. Drones of the deep space variety. I'm assuming the two sides have been ti...read on »

Charles-Eric Charrier

Petite Soeur

8/10 from Mike

Here's an interesting and beautiful record. Charles-Eric Charrier leads his quartet in a series of contemplative minimal jazz pieces, often blurring the lines between jazz and...read on »

Good Willsmith

The Honeymoon Workbook

8/10 from Mike

We do stock a lot of weird shit here at Norman, don't we? This week's review marathon has turned hallucinatory today as wave after wave of the very trippiest sounds our empori...read on »

Andrew Liles

Fast Forward Through Time (Illusion Four)

8/10 from Mike

Andrew Liles's new album is a concept piece involving piano loops, a kind of mathematical musical experiment inspired by the idea of self-replicating machines. The idea is tha...read on »

Inventions

Inventions

8/10 from Mike

I've had a lot of "challenging" music to review today, which I don't mind in principle but after a few hours it can really clog up your brain. Here to give me a little mental ...read on »

Eric Holm

Andøya

8/10 from Mike

London-based American electronic musician Eric Holm has a curious and immersive new LP out. He's recorded some sounds on a single contact mic on a telegraph pole on the arctic...read on »

Hallock Hill

Kosloff Mansion

8/10 from Mike

I seem to recall being fairly unmoved by the last Hallock Hill offering I heard, but 'Kosloff Mansion' is really hitting the spot today, possibly because I've just had a taxin...read on »

Featured albums

The Tenses & Guzo
Zaimph & Yek Koo
Bavaria
Various
John Lacey / Coum Transmissions
HTRK
Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks
Ingram Marshall
Sketches For Albinos
Suzanne Ciani / Clone
Hecker
Teebs
Downliners Sekt
Squarepusher x Z-Machines
School Of Language
Ellis Island Sound
Holy Mountain
Luke Vibert
Protomartyr
Various
Gezan
Inventions
Diane Cluck
Elbow
The Faint
Orcas
Todd Terje
Killing Sound
The Brothers & Sisters
Embrace
Various
X-TG
Black Belles
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Full Toilet
Bon Iver
Karen Elson
SBTRKT
Gang of Four
Patrik Torsson
cocknbullkid
Peter Doherty
Florence And The Machine
Hood
Florence And The Machine
Unicorn Kid
The Cure
Falling Out Of Cars