Napoleon IIIrd - The Scrape
A quick primer, as there's always latecomers - Napoleon IIIrd is James Mabbett and both of his previous albums made number four in their respective years' STN end of year lists. The Great Lake, out 19th May, comes more than six years after Christiania and is a five track literal change of pace, funereal, experimental and abstract in an ambient/Mark Hollis influenced sense, meditating on grief, transcendence and self-destruction. It'll get under your skin.
Public Service Broadcasting - Progress
No news on the subject matter linking PSB's as yet unannounced third album, but we can make an informed judgement from their new single. Or, y'know, just listen to it. Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura takes the chorus vocal amid the restrained whilst still propulsive motorik and samples of research and development both harking back to their debut record, as always retro and futuristic at once.
Fleet Foxes - Third of May/Ōdaigahara
3rd May 2011 was the release date of Helplessness Blues, the last new material from the once ubiquitous nu-folk trailblazers. The near nine minute, several phase first taste of Crack-Up, released June 16th, considers what's changed in that time via the medium of quiet-loud crescendos, self-examining introspection and a great deal of what got them this far, just now in subtly different, more overtly expansive and cinematic clothing before turning into something more acoustic ambient, not far from what Animal Collective used to do circa Sung Tongs. A fascinating return and proof that there's more than one way out of the pastoral impasse.
Soulwax - Missing Wires
The concept behind the Dewaele brothers' new album From Deewee, released March 24th, is they recorded the whole thing in one take in one recording session. It fits too, the pulsing electronics fitting in around the song seeming impulsive, synths dancing across a rutted landscape and shapeshifting effortlessly.
Darren Hayman - Upper Slaughter
Hayman is onto the second volume (out May 26th) of his Thankful Villages project, visiting the 54 UK villages where every soldier returned alive from WW1 and writing a song inspired by the folklore and landscape of each. For his visit to the titular Cotswolds village, halfway between Cheltenham and Chipping Norton, he invited local resident and Fairport Convention's first singer Judy Dyble, who lends autoharp and clearest of folk vocals to a tale of history flowing like the bisecting River Eye.
Sean Rowe - Newton's Cradle
Another track from Rowe's third album New Lore, out August 7th, it feels somehow wrong to hear his familiarly gruff voice against something quite musically upbeat, more appreciably outright Philly-soulful than he's ever been before in fact. Luckily, it fits nigh-on perfectly.
Pip Hall - James
Preston-based sixteen year old Hall created a groundswell of attention towards the end of 2017 with a lush electronically aided commercially leaning soulfulness, the kind of thing that can and often does dip into MOR Remember The Eighties? wash but keeps its head above water here with subtlety and meaningfulness, the song being about Hall coping with the passing of her father.
Year Of Birds - Western Splits (After Lear)
Teeside now-trio Year Of Birds have been around for a few years but the tremendously titled White Death To Power Alan, out this week on Odd Box, is their first album to be approached and written as a full actual album, if that makes sense. Their ragged lo-fi weird garage nods greatly at the Fall but would more willingly fit into the mid-80s scene John Robb described as Death To Trad Rock, and the more bands we have that sound like they could be filed next to A Witness or Bogshed the better these days.