Staff album reviews

Good or bad, here's what we think of the last month's crop of new releases. Prefer to read what actual paying customers think instead? Take a look »

Please note: All views expressed are those of individual staff and not Norman Records as a whole!

Kassel Jaeger - Swamps / Things

Album review: Kassel Jaeger - Swamps / Things

from Ant

Rewind to 2012 and there I was blathering on about this guy called Kassel Jaeger who creates these really mysterious electroacoustic sound worlds. Then some years later I discover that Kassel Jaeger is not actually the name of a human man at all, but that the person in question is actually called Fr...

  • Published: Thursday 16th July 2020

Shinichi Atobe - Yes

Album review: Shinichi Atobe - Yes

from Ant

A sole 12” for Chain Reaction in 2001 and then he seemingly vanished. Then, after thirteen years of silence, in 2014 Shinichi Atobe re-emerged with an album for Demdike Stare’s DDS label. Now, here we are in 2020 and ‘Yes’ is his fifth album. He’s certainly been making ...

  • Published: Thursday 16th July 2020

Zara McFarlane - Songs of an Unknown Tongue

Album review: Zara McFarlane - Songs of an Unknown Tongue

from Daoud

‘Songs of an Unknown Tongue’ is dripping wet. Every track on the album is fluid and dynamic, given form by Zara McFarlane’s voice. The horns are wet, the bass is wet, even the drums sound wet. It makes for an album that is compelling in how slippy it is, how it eludes simple catego...

  • Published: Thursday 16th July 2020

Samantha Crain - A Small Death

Album review: Samantha Crain - A Small Death

from Daoud

‘A Small Death’ is quite an unlikely album. For a time Samantha Crain’s music career looked to have ended due to paralysis in her hands. I can only imagine the relief that Crain felt when she was able to use her hands, to play the guitar, to write an album. It’s hard not to ...

  • Published: Thursday 16th July 2020

Various - Kaleidoscope - New Spirits Known and Unknown

Album review: Various - Kaleidoscope - New Spirits Known and Unknown

from Daoud

It’s quite remarkable, the London jazz scene. A genre long derided for being difficult and uncompromising has managed to burst its banks without compromising at all. Long gone are the days where the high point for a young British jazz band was a token mercury prize nomination (sorry SEED Ensem...

  • Published: Wednesday 15th July 2020

Crack Cloud - Pain Olympics

Album review: Crack Cloud - Pain Olympics

from Daoud

What is it about Canada that seems to be able to sustain ambitious and large musical collectives? Though they don’t have much in common musically it’s hard not to think of Godspeed You! Black Emperor when thinking about Crack Cloud. I mean jeez, that’s a lot of Canadians. Crack Cl...

  • Published: Wednesday 15th July 2020

Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin - Stygian Bough: Volume 1

Album review: Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin - Stygian Bough: Volume 1

from Daoud

Friends, I have missed you. It’s been a calendar month since I’ve last had the time and the energy to write one of Norman Records’ patented “reviews" and boy is it nice to be back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to assist all you lovely customers by email but ...

  • Published: Wednesday 8th July 2020

Jason Molina - Eight Gates

Album review: Jason Molina - Eight Gates

from Fred MG

I fucked up. I asked for the wrong album. Well, I didn’t actually ask for the *wrong* album - I did request a copy of Jason Molina’s ‘Eight Gates’ to review, that much is true. Problem is, I’d got Molina confused with Damien Jurado. Damien Jurado’s a fine songwrit...

  • Published: Wednesday 5th August 2020

Shackleton & Zimpel - Primal Forms

Album review: Shackleton & Zimpel - Primal Forms

from Fred MG

Shackleton has always been an idiosyncratic artist ever since his Wiccan takes on the dubstep lineage positioned him outside the mainstream of his bassweight contemporaries. However, recently his rhythms have shifted away from classic dance tropes more into something more organic and insistent, with...

  • Published: Wednesday 5th August 2020

Courtney Marie Andrews - Old Flowers

Album review: Courtney Marie Andrews - Old Flowers

from Fred MG

The great thing about Courtney Marie Andrews is that she has the forthright conviction of a classic country songwriter yet is also constantly wracked, flailing amid the drift in a way that only Millennials of a certain emotional disposition do. I am one of these Millennials, and that’s probabl...

  • Published: Thursday 23rd July 2020

Dehd - Flower Of Devotion

Album review: Dehd - Flower Of Devotion

from Fred MG

Dehd’s ‘Flower Of Devotion’ is an economical rendition of DIIV-style indie with a bit of recent-times Black Lips thrown in for good measure. Bar the twin vocals of Jason Balla and Emily Kempf the Chicago band’s setup runs to just guitar, bass, a snare and a kick drum, but kee...

  • Published: Friday 17th July 2020

Entry - Detriment

Album review: Entry - Detriment

from Fred MG

I had three records to choose from for review today. ENTRY's debut LP 'Detriment' got the nod on two counts - firstly their songs are very short, and also I heard a couple of their songs yesterday and thought that their bracing hardcore punk might jolt me awake. It’s definitely done that. This...

  • Published: Friday 17th July 2020

Laraaji - Sun Piano

Album review: Laraaji - Sun Piano

from Fred MG

This is probably breaking some sort of journo code, but I’m gonna crib from another review here. Not another review of Laraaji’s ‘Sun Piano’, mind, but rather from an equally cerebral work that has been released in recent times, Julianna Barwick’s ‘Healing Is A Mi...

  • Published: Friday 17th July 2020

JARV IS - Beyond The Pale

Album review: JARV IS - Beyond The Pale

from Fred MG

Life has become more abstract in the years since Jarvis Cocker released his last solo album, 2009’s ‘Further Complications’. And yet it has also got more pointed, more needling - we sense that shadowy forces keep tabs on our every move; every second of the day is expected to be fil...

  • Published: Thursday 16th July 2020

Galaxians - Chemical Reaction

Album review: Galaxians - Chemical Reaction

from Fred MG

Galaxians’ ‘Chemical Reaction’ is one of those LPs which will suffer particularly hard from emerging mid-lockdown. You see, the Leeds trio are an absolute delight live - even more so of late, given that the whip-smart renderings of golden-age boogie-house which drummer Matt Woodwar...

  • Published: Friday 10th July 2020

Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter

Album review: Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter

from Fred MG

The songs Laura Marling has written for her seventh studio LP address an imaginary daughter. Whereas Marling has managed in the past to find a way for both a fawn-in-the-headlights innocence and an old-beyond-her-years worldliness to coexist in her music, here she grows firmly into the latter. This ...

  • Published: Thursday 9th July 2020

Oneness of Juju - African Rhythms 1970-1982

Album review: Oneness of Juju - African Rhythms 1970-1982

from Sam F

From the very first whistle the title track ‘African Rhythms’ delivers precisely what you’d hope it would - and that’s the ability to make your head move like it’s trying to gently detach from your shoulders. Oneness of Juju is an ever-changing collaborative project spe...

  • Published: Monday 20th July 2020

Sven Wunder - Eastern Flowers (Doğu Çiçekleri)

Album review: Sven Wunder - Eastern Flowers (Doğu Çiçekleri)

from Tommy WM

Not a huge deal is known about Sven Wunder, the Swedish producer behind the recently reissued record shop favourites ‘Eastern Flowers (Doğu Çiçekleri)’ and ‘Wabi Sabi’. Both these releases reveal a profound love of Turkey’s popular and traditional music h...

  • Published: Wednesday 5th August 2020

bdrmm - Bedroom

Album review: bdrmm - Bedroom

from Tommy WM

Yorkshire newcomers bdrmm have certainly done their homework alright. The young group know their way around a pedalboard and have soaked up a healthy amount of influence from groups making their best music before they were born. Their debut ‘Bedroom’ leans more to the side of post-punk a...

  • Published: Friday 10th July 2020