Friday, June 02, 2017

STN recommends: 2/6/17

It's only been a week and again EVERYONE has decided to release new material for us to pick carefully through and highlight the peaks rather than foothills of.

May as well start with Arcade Fire, whose Everything Now - title track of album out July 28th, as you know - extends the synth and disco elements they grazed towards on Reflektor into a sweeping, Abba and Bowie-nodding chant of a chorus and replacement of the traditional run to the crescendo sun with a steady insistent progression to a big coda that turns out not to be the coda. And a synthesised pan pipe break, but y'know.

We next find Sweet Baboo on unusually funky mood on Pink Rainbow, from the album Wild Imagination out today. "Arthur Russell meets Robert Wyatt" says the press release, and with Stephen's delivery and the warm synth against clipped funk guitar for once it's not all that wrong, though the none more glittery rainbow-wigged model in silhouette in the window of a Rewind club solo takes some getting used to. Apparently the lyrical inspirations were Rainbow Connection and the Lovely Eggs' son explaining the Flying Scotsman to him. Another album out today is Peach, by Emma Winston's 8-bit DIY pop under the guise of Deerful. Conceptual Art traces its own path again, wistful Game Boy half-speed minimalist wistfulness. "Not everything's confessional" Winston claims towards the end having just made that sound like a lie.

Featuring members of Johnny Foreigner (which isn't mentioned in the press release so it literally is just us now), God Damn and Viv Albertine's band, Mutes might just lap all o... at least one of them with debut album No Desire, the title track of which is a magnificently sprawling juggernaut touching on noise-pop, Krautrock insistency, bludgeon riffola and cresting avant-indie, the kind of compact while stretched out thing that ultimately demands your attention. That album is out now too.

Doing things by halves has never been part of Kiran Leonard's agenda, which is why Derevaun Seraun, out 15th September, is a "piece in five movements for voice, piano and string trio" with each part inspired by a work of literature, led by seven and a half minute Living With Your Ailments inspired by Albert Camus' The Myth Of Sisyphus. (Given Leonard's previous hugely ambitious arrangements and autodidactic work we'd like to think he played all the string parts too, but that seems unlikely) It's dramatic, literate and as singular as you'd expect from him.

Karen Sheridan's Slow Skies project seems to be a lot more upbeat than it once was these days, not entirely giving itself to abandonment given the melancholia at the heart of Sheridan's voice, but Dancing is about forgetting everything in the joyous moment driven by handclaps and developing with the aid of subtly triumphant horns into warm exuberance of a kind. Brooklyn's Big Thief are a guitar band by definition, signed to Saddle Creek for Capacity out June 9th, but Mary is a stark piano ballad engineered for what seems to be maximum emotional sparsity, Adrianne Lenker's vocal closeness matched by the run of personally charged memories and imagery, pain and empathy.

We've been waiting for the spectral Nordic pop of Anna Of The North to make it to album stage for a while, and that finally lands on 8th September. Title track Lovers shows a lot of those route-one post-XX/London Grammar electropop types that show up on the weekly Spotify playlists where they're going wrong, utilising drum pads and glacial synths much as they all do but coming at it from a direction that's both more assured and icier, maybe emotionally emptied out.

And finally, forwarding the Australian indie resurgence, Melbourne's School Damage are exemplars of the kind of falling apart DIY bubblegum punk-pop that traces its lineage through those 1978 7"s via Swell Maps through the more ragged end of the Scottish and Australian celebrated early 80s scenes, running on charm and effort. Plus the song is called The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down, so full marks there too.

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