Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What you may have missed: October

Adwaith - Y Diweddaraf
Haven't been as convinced as many about the - go on, guess - Welsh trio (Carmarthen, to be exact) but this dip into crepescular Siouxsie territory around a slowly evolving circular riff where the track is nearly halfway done before the vocals come in is a big step forward

Anatomy - Anatomy Theme
Well, that's the existence of Grey's Anatomy making this post completely unGoogleable. Emily from Kermes' other band debut properly with six minutes plus of what they term "spooky doo-wop", developing from haunted drones and grooves to full abrasive noise and cathartic howling into the void

Baxter Dury, Etienne De Crécy, Delilah Holliday - Tais Toi
At nine tracks totalling nineteen minutes B.E.D. is largely being treated as a stop-gap but it doesn't feel like a set of knock-offs, Dury's typically overdetailed sprechgesang persona rubbing up against Holliday (of Skinny Girl Diet) as contemptuous foil

Boy Harsher - Face The Fire
Darkwave is a very easy thing to get wrong, too far a step in the wrong direction and you end up too goth for your own good. The Massachusetts duo stay comfortably the right side, their minimal atmospheric mumblecore a more nuanced version of the if-80s-were-10s thing so many others with synths are doing

Brix & The Extricated - Heavy Crown
Breaking State, the second album by four of the Fallen, is entirely made up of original songs, despite this starting with something very like the Totally Wired intro drums. Actually they haven't moved that far here, you could easily imagine this track from that band's 1983-84 vintage until dropping into a Blondie-adjacent pop chorus

Chemtrails - I'll Never Be
A little late in the day for glorious summer anthems, but the psych-garage outfit following up their unjustly overlooked album Calf Of The Sacred Cow with the Cuckoo Spit EP on 7th December have hit on a bouncy, Farfisa-fuelled anthem of self-acceptance

Chorusgirl - In Dreams
From second album Shimmer & Spin, out 16th November, the power-pop gets turned down a couple of notches, the echoey twang is less clean and deliberately unsure of itself, and Silvi's occasional lyrical touchstone of waiting to grow up and move away weighs heavier. Touted as an album detailing a year of personal bad news it's an intriguing semi-introduction

Comet Gain - I Was More Of A Mess Then
26 years in the grand staging post of indiepop reopens business once again with a double A side, this side a scrappy sub-two and a half minute cut of secret hope maybe deliberately designed to sound like a dug up garage 7" obscurity

Dead Slow Hoot - Below
Sounding like they could have made this into an anthem but didn't have that much ambition, the Sheffield four-piece deal in melancholia that colours in the cracks and unfolds in its own richly detailed time unless it's being derailed by a sudden burst of noise

Diva Sweetly - Detox Island
NorCal newcomers deal in skippy, carefree pop headed to the beach, mainlined for instant catchiness. It also shifts speed attractively, though the counter-vocals suggest something else might be going on underneath

Fightmilk - Not Going Anywhere
Although we could have picked practically anything from Not With That Attitude's biting power-pop thrills, which got a surprise digital release today two days ahead of schedule so just got in under the wire by circumstance

flirting. - Yum
It's not often these days that a debut EP sets out its stall and approach equally now and for the extended discography universe future as effectively as This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me. Ambitiously, entrancingly vaulting in a "didn't think new bands sounded like this any more" way, it touches on post-rock, pared down National-like ambition, the odd mathy break, weighed down atmosphere build-and-release and a nod especially in the spoken word breakdown to Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia

Hairband - Bee
1:58, just like mum used to make. Sounding like they intended to make either a janglepop record or a Breeders record but got distracted and piled too much onto it, submerging an insistent jangle beneath overlapping harmonies and intricate about-turns not that far from the blessed Life Without Buildings' twisting frictionless syncopation

Her Name Is Calla - Swan
The longserving post-rockers' final single, apparently, and it's a bleak exit, crushing a Valhalla-heading stomp under a refracting doomy riff

Hussy - Slayer
South Londoner Sophie Nicole Ellison by name, trading in underwater dreampop that surges and stalk in textures of distorted, darting guitars in ways that recall someone like Tanya Donelly

J. Lynch - Bereft
Johny Lamb has been around for a while, most notably as Thirty Pounds Of Bone; his latest outlet throws out the folky handbook and picks up the second hand modular synths, dressing downbeat songs in a variety of distorting and broken electronic noise and drones that somehow coalesce to form mini-melodies of their own

Pavvla - Something New
This month's nod to actual pop modernity comes from Barcelona's Paula Jornet, whose pared down, introspective take on modern electronic pop tropes suggests a Catalan Lorde

Piney Gir - Dreamcatcher
Gir's another one who has been around for years in assorted forms and styles - actually we last saw her, we now realise, as one of Gaz Coombes' backing singers. Back to the grind with an insistent, dreamy West Coast guitar pop excursion about taking risks augmented with crunching solos - plus Sweet Baboo parping away on sax, surely by now having far cleared Thomas White's previous all-comers record for most bands played with

Pozi - KCTMO
New on PRAH Recordings, the Moshi Moshi spinoff that gave us Haiku Salut's recent album, a trio who prove you can do wiry, jittery motorik-driven post-punk without a guitar (a violin fills the gap instead) debut with a pointedly angry instant reaction-penned song about Grenfell

R.Seiliog - Opal Drift
Robin Edwards says his second album Megadoze will be more on the ambient techno side then his earlier kosmiche. The first taste does feel becalmed in comparison but possesses that pulsing, undulating build to a point where it seems to naturally open out and embrace the insistent rush

Red Telephone - Victoria Park
This Barrett/Lennon-nodding nostalgia trip is, for what it's worth, what we reckon is the Cardiff psychedelics' weakest track in their current set, and it's still hugely appealing in its evocation of place, time and social surroundings

Store Front - Go For Broke
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart were never the same after Peggy Wang left, so nice to see she's resurfaced in a new Brooklyn-based band who debut with a propulsive, effortlessly melodic and hooky song about the money/culture/happiness balance which recalls The Organ (there's one for the teenagers)

Tiny Ruins - Olympic Girls
Fulfilling October's New Zealand quotient, Hollie Fullbrook brings out her third album under this umbrella in January, picked up by Milk! Records (proprietor: C. Barnett) domestically. Folky and delicately intricate in its acoustic picking, woodwind and woody backing colours the backdrop of her literate hopes of escape

The Wave Pictures - House By The Beach
Their second album of the year, because they're the Wave Pictures and they do that, Look Inside Your Heart is out on 9th November. They've released a whole bunch of tracks from it on a weekly basis, of which this almost straightforward rock'n'roll excursion made the most ground. Solos abound

Wooing - Could Have Been
The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players were an entertaining diversion in the middle of the New York New Rock Revolution, a married couple basing weird pop songs on found slides with their pre-teen daughter on drums. We're talking about them now because Rachel Trachtenburg has re-emerged at the front of a meaty new proposition, swooning, swirling guitars like college rock in a cement machine pushing against her insistent leaping vocals.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What you may have missed: August/September

What you may have missed: August/September We've been working on other stuff these last couple of months so this our now sole feature has slacked off, but just to make sure the whole year is covered let's whip through another 25 things from under the general radar that came out over the last two full months just before this one is completed...

August

A Certain Ratio feat. Barry Adamson - Dirty Boy
Even bands who haven't recorded in ten years and pretty much exist in theory have a new one from the compilation. In this case a chrome disco tribute to Manchester nightlife with someone who also has a career-spanning anthology plus new one fresh out plus an old recording of Tony Wilson giving advice. There's also a whistle, because ACR.

Adrianne Lenker - cradle
Abysskiss is an ideal companion to last year's breakthrough Big Thief album without bearing that much in direct comparison with it, intimate and folkish without the guitar bite but replacing the deeply personal with the more elliptical.

Arc Iris - $GMNS
A radical rework of earlier track Money Gnomes, lifting it off into space across synths and harmonies that crest and wane like early Cocorosie to the power of Flaming Lips

Benjamin Shaw - All Body Start Feeling Down
The anti-everything dissonant Shaw has long been across our radar; he's now based in Melbourne and making electronic drones full of warped beats, found sounds and existential dread

Castle Pines - Woo Hoo
Californian sunshine, with Camus-inspired wry storytelling. Feels very like something late 90s that we can't quite place

The Chills - Scarred
Dunedin soundmeister Martin Phillipps and co's new album Snow Bound continued on their comeback bittersweet path sounding like Teenage Fanclub inverted

Cosmic Strip - Heavenly
The first dreampop of the month unspools kindly into reverberating, restrained spiralling riffs complementing Camella Agabaylan's vocals a la all Lush eras at once

Ellis - The Drain
A more foggy while swooning take on the same genre by Ontario's Linnea Siggelkow, gauzy surges and downbeat melodies circling before ascending to an attempted minor triumph

Esbie Fonte - Pico & Westwood
Slo-mo electro from LA, romantic notions striving for more, effects like emerging into the sunlight

Exploded View - Sleepers
Years ago Anika, leader of the Mexico City-via-Berlin trio, put out a solo album on Invada; this from her band's second album feels like that label's journeys into exploratory Kraut-darkness, eerie and anxious in a way that feels like it's floating above the chaos

FEWS - Business Man
IN HIS SUIT AND TIE. FEWS have been around the STN block for a couple of years and now seem to have developed a pounding edge derived from the darkest recesses of post-punk, all razorwire guitars and nihilistic vocals

Fightmilk - Four Star Hotel
Not With That Attitude, out 2nd November, is Fightmilk's Kirsty Maccoll-goes-fizzy-pop-punk apogee, the cynicism of love having fallen apart to no great loss writ large

Fröst - Black Mountain
We were heavily taken with the duo's ethereal motorik debut back in July and their second single from Matters, an album that's flown heavily under the radar but is worth your investment, adds Goldfrapp-like electronic pulses to good effect

Gulp - Silver Tides
Talking about insistent psych-y records that people have missed brings us to All Good Wishes, Guto and Lindsay's seconds album being their high water mark, the last track on which is a joy of percussive forward motion eventually being sucked down its own centre

Honey Moon - Yours, Girl
And here's the month's first nostalgic sundrenched jangle, all wide-eyed romance in the key of longing

Kate Teague - Good To You
Wistful, lushly detailed in warmth, vaguely countrified struggles with self-esteem from Oxford, Miss. singer-songwriter recorded in Memphis

Mi Mye - Your Left Side
Wakefield stalwart Jamie Lockhart and band find hope amid personal tragedy in a shivering, ambitious tone like a claustrophobic National

Moderate Rebels - I Love Today
Semi-threatening glam chant stomping quasi-irony from enigmatic London collective who describe their modus operandi as "(we) wanted to make a bit of a glorious noise and see what happens", which seems about right

Mountain Man - Rang Tang Ring Toon
Eight years after their last album, during which time one of them has been busy with Sylvan Esso, the harmonic trio returned with this spare tribute to the wonder of friendship

Owls Of Now -Lead Singer
Another from Glasgow's secret indiepop factory, Episode 4 EP lo-fi in all the appropriate places referencing across riot grrrl, distortion and shambling jangle

Public Practice - Fate/Glory
Spiky, bass-propelled convulsing post-punk isn't dead! It's got groove, it's got meaning

Silent Forum - How I Faked The Moon Landing
Remember the shortlived baggy revival? The Cardiffians scrape along the edge of it with six and a half minutes of swagger, spiralling riffs and dancefloor ambition

Slime City - Less Jools More Top of the Pops
Yeah, fair sentiment. Unsurprisingly given the hyperactively chaotic post-punk collapsing attack, they comprise former members of We Are The Physics

Still Corners - The Message
Remaining one of our most underappreciated bands, the album Slow Air brings a new weird Americana to their dreampop float

Terry - Bureau
Yet more of that bass-driven splintery groove, this time from Melbourne where the sunlight sound is allowed to intrude upon wiry guitars and propulsion



September

180dB feat. Meredith Graves & Nick Zinner - Road Trip
Savages' rhythm section plus Perfect Pussy plus the Yeah Yeah Yeahs plus a Goldie collaboration with Skepta that kind of formed the track's basis equals raging, intense modern punk

Big Joanie - Fall Asleep
Fractured popish shaped and handclap driven insistency from righteous black feminist punks partially behind Decolonise Fest

Blithe - Mission
OK, Blithe Saxon is quite a difference to all the schmindie around here given her inspiration was Katy Perry and she cites Billie Eilish and Troye Sivan as her lineage, but this is the kind of slinky modern pop with electronic whistle hook that usually gets a lot more cool press coverage than this has had

Body Type - Palms
Starts a bit like Bloodbuzz Ohio, then devolves into classy summery garagey Auspop with a rush of a chorus. The self-titled EP is all this arrestingly good with lyrical cut

Charmpit - Squirrel Vision
Until this release we never knew what Charmpit's surnames were, which is good because pop stars should be recognisable by their first name along, but also a shame as it turns out they're magnificent. Anyway this is half of their end of summer double A-side and is irresistably glitterpunx as everything else they've done

Chorusgirl - No Goodbye
Second album Shimmer & Spin is out on 16th November and sounds like business kind of as usual in a good way, jittery and taut with subtle retro twang and lyrical unsureness

Dammit I'm Mad - Atomic Spectroscopy
A decade or more ago no end of guitar bands playing spidery lead guitar lines that ran fast and loose with the concept of time signature, and they came to call it math-rock. This from a Swedish duo isn't math-rock as she is spoke, but its structural shifts would be at home at ArcTanGent all the same

Deerful - N1C
Emma Winston's 8-bit electropop project returned with an album "coded in the music programming language ixi lang", giving impersonal machines a genuine, gossamer heart (and then breaking it, because a songwriter can)

Evelyn Drach - An Archipelago Rises
Drach continues her run of fascinatingly unsettling low-key singles based on heavy poetics and semi-ambient, vaguely parallel to trip-hop backing. Uneasy like Sunday night

Go March - Chop Chop
Nine minutes, but the wildest nine minute ride you might have this year of Antwerp-originating electronic psychedelia, overheating circuit boards and worn out analogue ger coming to mind in the Holy Fuck tradition

Haiku Salut - Occupy
We're not going to let up on this, you know

Historian - I've Been Here
We've jumped on board with the LA band's fourth album but at least that means a spot where they seem to have a grasp of what they're doing, namely expansive, drifting art-rock with actual panoramic layers and depths, like the jazz trumpet cascade here

indi - Demeter
The kind of track that feels like it's barely there, at least until the drum machine kicks in and the New Zealand born, Berlin based Flying Nun signing emerges from the chrysalis as a Bjork-adjacent commander of rushing electronics and calmed, string-laden ethereal passages

itoldyouiwouldeatyou - Gold Rush
Socially conscious modern emo on fighting for something bigger than yourself from the septet featuring Alexei Berrow somewhere round the side

Jeremy Warmsley - Moment
Hey, I know that name! J-Wo's first solo material in ten years was written for BBC1's Wanderlust, the pitch being that it should be one character's favourite song. No pressure. What that led to is a snaking, detailed jazzy nine-minute meditative piano lament ripe for headphones

Monnone Alone - Cut Knuckle
Melbourne's Mark Monnone used to be in the rather wonderful Lucksmiths; produced by British ex-pat Gareth Parton (Go! Team, Foals) and featuring the drummer from Architecture In Helsinki, he now deals in woozily heatstruck 12-string jangle with Chills-like left of centre pop nous

Moscow Youth Cult - Hospice
From the duo's second album Brutalism, towering arpeggiating synths and shuddering beats heading into a pile-on of analogue noise

Mothers - Circle Once
Why is nobody talking about Render Another Ugly Method? Come on, you went nuts about their much lesser first album...

The Mountain Goats - Hospital Reaction Shot
Darnielle and co are planning a group of EPs - this from the first of those, Hex Of Infinite Binding EP, is a lament inspired by a press conference announcing the death of Judy Garland

Mutual Benefit - Written In Lightning
Jordan Lee's third album under the name exudes grace and love in the face of the bad times

Pom Poko - Follow The Lights
Out of Norway, a big old distorted lumbering glam beast with a playtime chorus

Rumour Cubes - No Pasarán!
More old STN favourites who've been away for a while, the post-rock collective surge back with politically charged determination with their previous contemplative grace somehow still finding room to run through its centre

Sœur - Fight
Bristolian trio slow build through gritted teeth throughout towards a delayed payoff of a violent post-grunge explosion

Squid - The Dial
The latest expulsion from the Speedy Wunderground secret cave laboratory, the influences notably dart all over the place between psych via DFA to just screaming. Oddly funky right up until it all gets sucked into a black hole for a while

Wolf Girl - Maths In The Real World
Misleadingly perky streamlined punk-pop with effervescent charisma from now-recent second album Every Now & Then. And that's us finally up to date.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What you may have missed: July

Beak> - Brean Down
Hey, we finally have news of the new album by the Invada force! Out on 21st September, confusingly if logically being their third album it's called >>> and on this track pushes the fuzz-Kraut into the dark side, sounding like a cousin to those times when Can decided to make a four minute "pop" song.

The Chills - Complex
The Dunedin sound pioneers came back in 2015 with an album, Silver Bullets, that felt like they'd never been away. The first taste of its follow-up Snow Bound, out September 14th, comes on a little more commercially aimed and, dare we say, mature in a decent way. Martin Phillipps describes the album as "hopefully a kind of Carole King 'Tapestry' for ageing punks", intriguingly.

Evelyn Drach - Leopard In The Sun
A wake-up for your more paranoid mornings, there's not a great deal of straight biographical information around about Drach but she's the kind of musician who has to be come to unknowing, the crackles and half-spoken vocals possessing the darkest, unsettling post-trip-hop feel of Tricky's Maxinquaye with the aid of swooping, diving violin runs.

The Fortuna POP! All-Stars - You Can Hide Your Love Forever
We don't usually do covers in this feature but... Fortuna POP! announced its cessation two years ago this weekend just gone but its Jukebox 45s Singles Club subscribers were still owed one more release, so ubergrupenfeuhrer Sean Price corralled as many bands of its recent years as possible - all of Allo Darlin', Amelia Fletcher, Darren Hayman, Emma Kupa, Pete Astor, Simon Love and members of the Spook School, Martha, Joanna Gruesome, Tigercats, Milky Wimpshake, Bearsuit, Chorusgirl, Evans The Death, Flowers, Fanfarlo, Shrag, The Ladybug Transistor and The Butterflies Of Love - to cover Comet Gain's glorious indiepop anthem as a fitting communal coda to a great label.

Fröst - Record Still Spinning
Half of Fröst is also in Fujiya & Miyagi and the other was in Imitation Electric Piano with members of Stereolab, so as you can guess there's keyboard drones, hypnotically insistent motorik and ethereal vocals not pitched too far from Sarah Cracknell. Not that that makes this any less charmingly involving.

Guided By Voices - You Own The Night
No, no new album just yet - just one a year from now on, allegedly - but one of those three and a half minute (long for them) ruggedly dirty actual near-anthems, albeit one pierced through the sides, that Robert Pollard and co used to put out every so often. It could have come off Alien Lanes, and that is due praise.

Gulp - Claudia
We've gone on about Guto and Lindsay (and Gid) often enough down the years that by now some of their space-pastoral psych-pop greatness should have seeped in by now. If not there's an album All Good Wishes out on Friday and this pastel hued, retro cut nodding at tropicalia and laid back synthpop before then.

H. Grimace - In The Body
Their debut album Self-Architect made our top 50 of 2017 and already they're pushing forward, that bit more menacing sounding and half-spoken lyrically forthright to Kim-led Sonic Youth levels, driven by coiled spring bass and reptition to make their point more intensely.

Haiku Salut - The More And Moreness
On 10th August ver Salut are playing a one-off at Centre For Life in Newcastle with the Robot Orchestra, where their electro-cacophony meets the band's own experiments in self-playing instruments. Everything on There Is No Elsewhere, out 7th September, are all played and programmed by the three of them but you can see the appeal, here bringing their take on racing minimal techno to their electronics'n'accordion blueprint.

International Teachers Of Pop - Age Of The Train
Yet another monicker for Dean Honer and Adrian Flanagan, sometimes known as The Eccentronic Research Council when with Maxine Peake and the Moonlandingz when accompanied by some of Fat White Family (Honer was also in The All Seeing I and I Monster). This time their vocal foil is Leonore Wheatley once of Kraut-library music band The Soundcarriers. Together they make insistent, uplifting electro-disco.

Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something - Heaven On A Plate
Formerly of Landshapes, whose Heyoon made our top 40 albums of 2015, Freeman's new venture is charismatically sparky, angular pop in a Long Blondes gone spiky glam sense on what Freeman calls "a kind of euphoric despair".

Kagoule - Egg Hunt
Kagoule have been one of those bands around the periphery of the cool end of indie over the last few years without making the big leap. As if to step back, their new single on home of the hits Alcopop! and recorded by MJ for full STN marks, is deliberately uncomfortable, staccato and wisely never allowing itself to fully let rip into anthemry.

Lala Lala - Destroyer
Behind the monicker lies Lillie West, a Chicagoite whose full bodied lo-fi guitar is in the Crutchfields/Soccer Mommy lineage but whose emotional core is especially open-wounded and brought down by life, attempting to self-heal as she goes.

Lusts - Lost Highway
We've featured Andrew and James Stone on and off over the build-up to their as yet unconfirmed second album and this is a particularly good example of what they do, neon synth lines and a radio-ready chorus aided and abetted by cyclical rhythms and ghostly interference.

Mighty Kids - Window
From the Won't You Reconsider? EP, subtle electro aided by Shelley Jane Newman's dreamy melancholic voice and ukelele. The Derby trio actually made their full live debut at our own Leicester Indiepop Alldayer in 2015, and such is the power of the annual event that they've been signed and made their debut release just three years later!

Mothers - Pink
Basically to repeat what we wrote last month, everyone should be going on about the promise of Render Another Ugly Method (out 7th September) based on its now first two tracks. Here's seven minutes of flickering, uneven guitars, propulsive post-punk bass and a breakdown and build-up that seems to split the band in two and ends in digital distortion as if destroying itself from within.

Pram - Footprints Towards Zero
Across The Meridian, their first album in eleven years, picks up where they and their Moseley mates like Broadcast left off - exotica, film scores, test card music, haunted fairground organs, 1930s jazz, weird electronics - and thrusts the reconstituted parts into the midst of that whole hauntology/Ghost Box thing.

Primo! - A City Stair
Ten tracks in 22 minutes and the music is similarly stripped back on Amici, the debut by a Melbourne trio signed to Upset The Rhythm whose skeletal, deadpan thrust is a fun-sized Au Pairs or Delta 5 by way of Flying Nun.

Sarah Nixey - Coming Up For Air
The seductively Siren-like (in the Greek mythological sense) voice of Black Box Recorder's third solo album Night Walks, out 5th October, was conceived in an insomniac state, which fits the air of lurking danger that surrounds the lyrics amid the stomping, cresting electronica.

School Damage - Assimiliate
The Melbourne band pricked ears with a collapsible DIY bubblegum album last year; the follow-up, A To X, is already ready for August 31st release and advances the cause to a more nimble but no less ragged or precarious post-punk rush, the great sound of 1979 Rough Trade (label or shop)

Slang – Warm Enough
Slang were formed by Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney and fellow Portlander Drew Gow a couple of years ago; they've now expanded, including former Thermal/All Girl Summer Fun Band-er Kathy Foster, and have put out their first song, a driving garage glam charge based on big riffs and unisex eyeliner expenditure.

The Smittens - Three States
Burlington, Vermont's tweepop veterans release what we think is their sixth album City Rock Dove on Friday and what they describe as "a coming out/transition anthem" cleaves to a lot of what we know them for - ba-ba harmonies, easygoing melodies, gossamer charisma - before it drops into something much slower and more considered in its second half.

Tokyo Police Club - Hercules
Here's another name from our shared pasts - twelve years since Nature Of The Experiment? Not, like, three months? - releasing their fifth album in October heralded by a strident glammed-up riff and a big slight throwback college rock sensibility.

TVAM - These Are Not Your Memories
Joe Oxley's VHS electro-shoegaze reaches the album stage with Psychic Data out October 19th, ahead of which comes a track that appears to be warping itself out of a desire to be bigger than it needs to be even as it tries to play riffs off against synthy dreampop shapes before it all falls under the wheels of the digital mess.

Wolf Girl - Toast For Dinner
Hey, they've played an Alldayer too. Their second album Every Now & Then arrives on October 19th as well, the first single tackling mental health, physical exhaustion and magic through the medium of sparky indiepop-punk with Martha-level hooks.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

What you may have missed: June

Back once again with our kinda-end-of-the-month regular feature for 2018 of twenty five of the best things that slipped a little under the radar:

The Beths - Happy Unhappy
We had something from the simmering Auckland pop-punks last month and their album still isn't due until August. This one's a proper summer jam by way of Barnettesque lyrical nous, a breakup song that delights in the freedom it gives.

The Catenary Wires - What About The Rings?
Half of a new double A-side from Talulah Gosh/Heavenly/Marine Research/Tender Trap fulcrums Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey, a low budget polythene wall of sound production lovingly enveloping their harmonies and acoustic melancholia.

Claire Morales - No Telling
Denton, Texas' Morales is one of those singer-songwriters who sounds like they have a lot of internalised confusion to work through, spiralling guitars backing her desperation at unrequited circumstances delivered in an affecting vibrato.

Dubstar - Waltz No.9
Unexpected comeback of the month number one - no Steve Hillage on this journey but Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie returned with two singles and the promise of an album, One, on 28th September. You Were Never In Love returns to the more familiar sound but this proves they can pull off much the same effect on dreamy folkish guitars.

Falcon Jane - The News
Ontario's Sara May describes what she and her band do as 'plez rock', apparently "inspired by nature, truth, peace and magic". In practice that leads to May here working through a personal healing process by means of sweetly drifting dusty twang.

flirting. - Peppermint
You know when you find a band who sound right down your strasse and then find you missed a single? East London "anxiety-pop band" flirting. (hey, if it's how they want it representing) are onto their second, five minutes of lyrically and actually stumbling over themselves with twin vocals, meandering then surging guitars and the kind of anxious shuffle we thought new bands didn't do any more.

FLOAT - Watch
Speaking of things we haven't heard new bands do for a while, here's some post-punk coiled darkness! Claustrophobic goth guitars, Faris Badwan-pitched vocals, propulsion... it's got all it needs.

Gulp - I Dream Of Your Song
For whatever reason - similar sonics to the parent band? Them having a parent band? - Guto Pryce off SFA's other lot never really get the credit they're due for their spaced out psych explorations. The first taste of All Good Wishes, out August 3rd, is a breezy spacious wander through dreampop shapes.

Haiku Salut - Cold To Crack The Stones
We were in the Derbyshire Dales last week. Quaint but modern villages, lots of great picturesque landscape, but no Haiku Salut statue. What's wrong with this country? Third album There Is No Elsewhere is out 7th September, this samples a NASA recording of pulses emitted by lightning, features Glastonbury Brass and enables full deployment of all the weird instruments they've been building up over the last couple of years.

I See Rivers - I Don't Know
The Norwegian-raised, Wales-dwelling trio call what they do "float-folk", which in practice means inventive three part harmonies and a woody outlook which allows the modern world of electrickery to gradually sneak in.

io & Titan - Dreamer
Brooklynite Matt Schlatter is the man behind the monicker and everything you hear here, sounding like a classic singer-songwriter (and a little like the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser) set amongst shifting rhythms, tricksy electronic sequences and part-mathy, part-hi-life guitars.

Loose Tooth - Keep On
And this month's Milk! Records discovery - in fact they just supported their label boss Courtney Barnett on her UK tour - are a Melbourne outfit who sound like the mid-point between Flying Nun and that taut indie sound of the late 00s, jittery backing and female vocalists cutting across the uncertain male lead and rushing for the close.

Low - Dancing And Blood
One of three intriguing tracks to emerge from Double Negative, out 14th September, which show hallucinatory electronics as their way forward. Listen to that sub-bass, the rumble, the way Mimi's vocals are treated. It was made in Justin Vernon's studio, which given the relatively similar shift for his last album makes sense.

Mallrat - Groceries
And yet another Australian! Grace Shaw here, a Brisbane 19 year old inspired by Kanye and Drake but now approaching modish pop from a Lordified direction in her sneakingly smart lyrics of the mundane, acoustic driven against insistent beats and corkscrew-hardworn chorus.

Mothers - Blame Kit
Given the attention When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired received in 2016 it's strange that the announcement of follow-up Render Another Ugly Method for 7th September slipped by largely under the radar. The first track is intriguing enough to worm its way further on every listen, starting out driving and twitchy, then turning into a math-waltz.

The Mountain Goats - Song For Sasha Banks
Turns out John Darnielle's most affecting case studies these days are about wrestlers. The titular WWE wrestler, presumably half-seriously, requested her own song after hearing 2015's Beat The Champ, Darnielle (eventually) touchingly wrote up her background through the prism of dreams against reality, rhyming "independents" with "transcendence" as it goes.

The Popguns - Red White And Blue
Alright, one World Cup song. From Matinee Recordings' Official Matinée World Cup EP the janglepop OGs understand the frustration and blind hope in equal measure of supporting England.

Pram - Shimmer And Disappear
Unexpected comeback of the month number two. Pram were part of the lively mid-90s Birmingham experimental scene, their synthesis of post-rock, exotica, Radiophonic Workshop, Krautrock, dub and Sonic Youth. Their first album in eleven years Across The Meridian, out 20th July, comes without singer Rosie Cuckston and in a land of hauntology makes for a playful oasis of tropicalia, film score jazz and brass.

Ralegh Long - Where You Are
The ever reliable Long breaks things back down to voice and fingerpicked guitar, delicately sad in its multitracked vocals and late night sense of loss and loneliness. The beauty of a Ralegh Long single, of course, is that the next one could go (relatively) anywhere.

Rebecka Reinhard - Nonsense In Your Sleep
Countryside end of Stockholm raised but London based, Reinhard sounds like what Lykke Li left behind by way of Mitski or Jens Lekman in the way it takes a personal breakup lament and turns its basis inside out with drum machine and passing guitar trails.

Rendez Vous - Double Zero
"Throbbing" is the first word that came to mind on hearing the French post-punks who are equal parts Cabaret Voltaire's spiky reshaping of electronic noise, Toy's post-punk dramatics, cold wave anxiety, taut bass and shouty goth vocals.

Stars - One Day Left
Stars are very much a "they still going?" kind of band in 2018, but for us it's more that their quality control was so hit or miss. This single may not be as expansively cracked as their best work but Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan still trade off each other like few can and it rattles and sweeps forward as if wanting to recharge its entire surroundings.

Still Corners - Black Lagoon
The dreampop duo relocated at some stage to Austin, Texas to make fourth album Slow Air, out 17th August, and the change of atmosphere feels like it's affected what they do in adding a Beach House-ish almost parched heat haze of beats and synth hues, shimmering like the horizon.

Sweet Baboo - The Acorn Drop
The Vending Machine Project is a kind of album-length collection between Stephen Black's regular albums - we can't summarise it, read about it here. What's immediately necessary to know is while only a tiny bit over two minutes long this classic slice of summery guitar pop would fit in at the top end of any of his releases.

T-Shirt Weather - Scratches
From that secret laboratory in Durham that keeps knocking out three minute melodic punk-pop genii to order, the hooks and multi-emotive lyrics are all to order ahead of second album Dinner And A Show, out 20th July. Is that a false ending there?

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

What you may have missed: May

Only six days late rather than three and a half months like before, 25 of the best tracks that came out last month and may have skipped most's attention:

Adam Stafford - Zero Disruption
Stafford's fascinating approach to neo-classical construction has earned him a keen following - back when we did the UK blogger album of the year poll (when bloggers were still a thing) he surprisingly made the list for 2013's Imaginary Walls Collapse. New album Fire Behind The Curtain, like fellow Scottish instrumentalist RM Hubbert, uses instrumental music to deal with mental health issues, using haunting looped figures to build intricate cinematic constructions.

AidenKeryn - Window Shopping
We still don't know a lot more about the Swansea teenager (as in just done her GCSEs, by the look of her Twitter) from when we first featured her at the start of last year. What we can say is her available tracks since then have warmed up the frosted tips of those early recordings, her richly emotive voice brought into colour as her promise continues to develop apace.

Baba Stiltz - Maze
The Swedish producer makes deliberately tinny, microscopically detailed warped lowkey house with sad robot vocals, proper crying-on-the-dancefloor material. Despite having remixed Avicii and Rita Ora this isn't conflicting downbeat vocals with hands in the air production either, but neither is it the longing longeurs of a James Blake, more a filled out Detroit electronica sound for melancholia nights.

The Beths - Future Me Hates Me
Another salvo, and not this selection's last, from the Antipodean invasion. This time we're in Auckland for some classic melodic, bright but self-doubting and quietly accusatorial pop-punk without that genre's riffola excesses making them seem more like Kiwi mirrors of, say, Happy Accidents. This is the title track from an album due in August.

Cape Weather - Never Say
More sepia-toned surf-pop, this of a gentler hue from an LA duo, imbued with regret and private social anxiety expressed through that familiar sun-kissed twang. Fits that weather we've been having, at least.

Colour Me Wednesday - Entrepreneur
Uxbridge's own have made good DIY scene business from their subtly sociopolitical storytelling power-pop and Counting Pennies In The Afterlife is their best realised album yet, marrying the smartest of summer pop hooks to their avowedly queer/feminist/anti-capitalist standpoint.

Drahla - Twelve Divisions Of The Day
Our highlight from spending this last Saturday at Long Division festival, where their visceral sculpted noise was accompanied by saxophone freakouts. Now signed to Captured Tracks this is their first new track since November's standout Third Article EP, intent on careering down a dark wiry post-punk wormhole that feels from bassline upwards like it's slowly compressing all in its way all while unspooling itself from the outside. Man alive, this is an exciting band.

East Brunswick All Girls Choir - Essendon 1986
Australasia part two, a product of the Barnett/Cloher hit factory Milk! Records (spot the video cameo) with a ferocious coiled spring unleashing into noise and anger like the National being bitten by a radioactive Pere Ubu. There's a peculiar majesty to it despite that.

Eureka California - MKUltra
A longstanding feature of the international indiepop overthrow, the Athens, GA duo's new album Roadrunners, which this opens, not only fulfils this month's Recorded By MJ quotient but follows the loose path of his work with Martha, where jangle approaches The Way Things Are Now and comes out the other side bearing the weight of its own world while still attempting to keep up the energy levels.

Ex-Vöid - Boyfriend
Evidently Joanna Gruesome quietly breathed their last somewhere in the last eighteen months or so because Alanna McArdle and Owen Williams have formed a new band (Owen was/is in several hundred bands anyway but Lan took time away after leaving JoGru three years ago), and their grand tradition of a tall formation story continues - astrology columns and contemporary dance classes this time. There's more audible elements of Posies-esque power pop and evident tunesmithery this time, but there's still melodic harmonic bits and loud distorted bits in bitesize chunks like they used to do so excitingly.

Jens Lekman - Not Because It's Easy, Because It's Hard
This has kind of slipped people's attention, but every month this year Lekman and Annika Norlin, who you most likely know as Hello Saferide, has been posting a track a month as conversation in a project known as Correspondence, where every song is somehow inspired by the last. Lekman took the reigns in May with his reaction to Avicii's death which somehow turns into a tale of how he bought a DIY cloning kit to share out his work and accidentally made his clones work too hard until they turned on him.

Jessica Risker - A Cooling Sun
The Chicago psych-folkie's I See You Among The Stars was a slept-on standout album from the month, gorgeously tender folk where despite the warm often minimalist spaciousness more commonly associated with acoustic singer-songwriters you can tell the Broadcast influence, colouring in the stories with aural care.

La Luz - Loose Teeth
Talking of the surf-pop revival, here's some cracking pointed jangle that sounds like Chorusgirl with a suntan, disorientating with clashing distortion and "wrong" notes amid the harmonies and with a side order of nightmare fuel. 'Challenging twang' would be a decent description of Floating Features as a whole, actually.

Liars - Liquorice
Actually recorded just after the last album but one, in 2014-15 when Aaron Hemphill was still in the band, this is actually from the soundtrack to upcoming film 1/1, which going by this intense distorted synth workout might be heavy but intrinsically vital going.

Mikey Collins - Sound in Here
The Allo Darlin' diaspora continues - Elizabeth is in Elva, Paul is with another band who will turn up in a moment (and is also on this), Bill is back in Australia, and now Mikey has gone solo on Fika Recordings with an album due in August. You can probably broadly imagine what it sounds like and takes after but, as Collins himself says, it also takes after the Cure and, more generally, a devil-may-care charge augmenting the timeless jangle of it all.

Modern Studies - Get Back Down
Another glorious outlier of a psych-folk leaning album, pastoral transient chamber pop that shifts on its axis and incorporates elements well beyond their previously bucolic output, from this track's skittishness via electronics, light jazziness, Nick Cave dark balladry and woodland lullabies to that peculiarly Scottish type of indie-rock oppressive build (you don't really want to invoke Frightened Rabbit in current circumstances, but...), all underpinned by sympathetic strings, Emily Scott and Rob St John's harmonies and a sense of psychotropic time and place.

Phantastic Ferniture - Fuckin 'N' Rollin
What Julia Jacklin does with her time off, by her own admission an attempt to work out what makes people moved when they're not in her country-folk circles. Turns out that means a breezy groove with hints of Belly.

Soft Science - Sooner
Lush aren't doing it any more so the Sacramento band are going to have to pick up the slack. Not Britpop Lush either, the shoegaze-era version with Katie Haley doing a decent impression of the spaced-out harmonies amid floating cyclical guitar washes and a tambourine prominent in the mix.

Spray - Anthologised By Cherry Red
The band that link Glen Campbell, Devo, Daz Sampson, Helen Love and Hacker T Dog, Spray used to be half of the Cuban Boys and have actually been around and taking further adventures in post-modern synthpop since 2002. Gary Crowley namecheck, Record Store Day reference, implacably catchy chorus, the works.

Stanley Brinks - Sweet Fanny Adams
TAFKAAndre Herman Dune claims to have recorded more than a hundred albums, which is the kind of boast that makes you wonder if another can possibly matter. Actually the latest "official" solo effort on Fika is the kind of sweetly oddball antifolk effort he specialises in, this being the kind of track you could easily point out as a quick "in" for his world.

Tigercats - Stay Out Of Limehouse
While they've always had half a foot in hi-life guitars third album Pig City takes on more direct kalimba-driven Afropop influences. That said, it also returns to the scrappy danceability of their debut, these brass blasts and joyously summery atmosphere (here with an anti-Nazi community-breeding message) calling back to their earliest releases.

Tirzah - Gladly
An R&B ballad but not one like the standard mean, as the Mica Levi collaborator delivers a gorgeous straightforward love song amid drunken synths and changeable arrythmic beats bobbing in a sea of serenity.

Trust Fund - Carson McCullers
The last time Ellis Jones put out a record - the same year as his tour promised a mid-set Three Lions karaoke - Frank Ocean played a track on his Beats 1 show. Let's hope he kept the Bandcamp alert as the first taste of Bringing The Backline, due in July, returns from the bedroom offcuts into full band colour, albeit this being Trust Fund the kind of shaggy jangle that might fall over soon enough, not quite as forceful as before but snappier or as much as the heartache will allow.

Value Void - Back In The Day
Built on a circular spidery riff, the new signings to the usually reliable Tough Love debut with a taut economic kiss-off and an air of off-hand mystery, in the "I forbid you to learn more" sense.

Vive la Void - Death Money
As half of Moon Duo Sanae Yamada has often helped plumb the multicoloured depths of Kraut-splattered heavy psych; here on her solo debut she's creating a soundtrack for a chase sequence set on monorails as envisaged in the early 1960s, layers of glowing synths and treated vocals on a driving motorik charge with burbles, sequencer drop-ins and layers arriving and quietly departing as trackside accroutrements.

Monday, May 21, 2018

What you may have missed: April

Amber Arcades - Simple Song
Annelotte De Graaf's second album European Heartbreak is out on 28th September; the second single is misleadingly titled on some levels, as while the melody may be classic and the song 2:32 there's a lot going on around its sophisticated melancholy

Bad Moves - One Thing
We came across the Washington outfit through recent US tour mates Martha and their crunchy, harmonic classic power-pop isn't far from a sun-dappled version of same

Beach Skulls - That's Not Me
Another PNKSLM dispatch, the hazily lilting chiming guitars sound like they're acquainted with the surf that's nowhere near their north-west base

Body Type - Arrow
Stumbling over each other, rolling flat Australian garage-pop with a flick-knife in its back pocket. Most importantly, one of them is called Cecil

Breakfast Muff - Crocodile
Glasgow-based project from members of a million other bands, from an EP of the same name this is likely their best, a thrusting spiky riff leading into a shoutalong chorus, a surprising waltz-time middle eight, and all done in 131 seconds

Coco Reilly - Define You
The Nashville resident has a country grounding, as per the steel guitar and the rich romanticism, but the vulnerability and the psych touches that come in suggest there's going to be a lot more to her

Daniel Rossen - Deerslayer
Rossen has quietly been responsible for most of our favourite Grizzly Bear moments (and Department of Eagles too), and his one-off Record Store Day release develops his kaleidoscopic chops further as it transfers from stately piano ballad to sludgy classic rock shapes

DRINKS - Real Outside
Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley pick up where they left off, a wonky idiosyncratic walking skeleton of a song the arrangement of which brings whole new meaning to the term 'angular'

A Festival, A Parade - Cold Shower
The Newcastle band have put out a few good singles over the last couple of years but it feels like they're sharpening up for the big move, all razorwire riffs and coiled spring tension gradually nudging the volume and ire up

Forth Wanderers - Ages Ago
Chiming and intimate, they make the kind of miniature self-doubt guitar-pop entropies Kristen Hersh used to specialise in

Gabi Garbutt - Lady Matador
Taking soul-punk back from the hands of Goldblade, sometime Libertines and Frank Turner support channels that ramshackle sound with brass section power and uplifting ragged glory

Grawl!x - Appendix B
The third of James Machin's trilogy of albums on the grief cycle sees him emerge slowly into the light, guided by stately piano and strident strings with electronics coming in and out of focus behind and Haiku Salut somewhere in the background

Jessica Risker - I See You Among The Stars
Title track from the Chicago singer-songwriter's tremendous album of starkly captivating, psych-touching gossamer acid-folk of a Vashti Bunyan stripe

Juliana Daugherty - Player
More exquisite songwriting (like Risker a product of the Western Vinyl label) that takes its psych-folk lead somewhere else, metronomically backed yearning in hope

Kermes - Casting The Creatures
Leicester queer-punks' We Choose Pretty Names is an album-long howl at identities cast out from the world and attempting to reclaim the self, with ragged hooks and aggressive melodies as choice of weapon

The Lucid Dream - SX1000
In which the longserving progenitors of face-melting kosmiche psych, went and made a thunderous wash of an acid house record, Roland 303 and everything

Melody's Echo Chamber - Breathe In, Breathe Out
Melody Prochet's second album was supposed to have been released last year and was previewed by one of the year's best tracks but hospitalisation put that on hold; back to fitness she picks up where she left off with Technicolour psych-pop that shifts and melds all over the place melodically. Yes, it does end like that

Moon Racer - New Crush
Very much home-made lo-fi in sound, this, a dreamy blurry lament a la Au Revoir Simone for things out of reach

Murderhouse - HMV Tweets
British emo isn't dead, it just remembered its conscience. Murderhouse are from Brighton, the title isn't really explained, and in its invocation of panic attacks and paranoia it leaves a welter of a mark

Nest Egg - DMTIV
Time for this month's long ones, the first nearly eight minutes of exploratory relentless Spacemen 3 kosmiche from the North Carolinans' kinetic album Nothingness Is Not A Curse

Oliver Coates - Charlev
And slightly longer still... while you don't necessarily reach for the 'Arthur Russell' button just because of Coates' classical cellist credentials, the shuffling, accentuated space electro-disco fits neatly alongside his experimental synthpop leanings

Scottibrains - Sustained Threat
Speedy Wunderground had been off our radar for a while, but Dan Carey's most recent release saw him return to the Kraut wig-out outlet formed with Boxed In's Oli Bayston for a track that builds and releases monoliths of psych assault

Sea Pinks - Run & Run
The Belfast duo with another song made for this weather, bouncy, classy indie about the coming of summer making everything feel freer

Sudan Archives - Nont For Sale
LA's Brittney Parks has had some attention for her earpricking combination of R&B, electronic loops and inventive violin parts, delivered fully formed here. Not dissimilar to what Marques Toliver was doing a good few years ago now, but with her own cool noise

TVAM - Psychic Data
Wiganer Joe Oxley has been developing his VHS electro paranoia over recent years and his insistent latest transmission shifts from electronic eddys to washed out dreaminess through to something almost magisterial but still highly unsettling/unsettled

What you may have missed: March

Amaya Laucirica - Let It Happen
It's been a big year so far for Australian acts catching on overseas and Laucirica is at the upper end with Rituals, sumptuous, quietly multi-layered and open hearted dreampop rich with yearning and learning, like a Melbourne Rose Elinor Dougall

BRNDA - Five Dollar Shake
Post-punk's... not dead? This has the insistent bassline, choppy guitars and minimal take on James Murphy-style declamatory vocal style of the form, but the conciseness is swapped out for six minutes of insistency

Cavern Of Anti-Matter - Automatic Morning
Also six minutes of insistency, but as you'd expect on a much more exploratory kosmiche bent dipping into dystopian sci-fi electronica

Czarface & MF Doom feat. Open Mike Eagle & Kendra Morris - Phantoms
Czarface is Inspectah Deck and two others, Doom has yet another collaborative album under his belt, and Open Mike takes the crown on the 8-bit backing that heads into creepy drama

Dama Scout - Milky Milk
Almost as if bands are too young to remember the Mary Whitehouse Experience these days. Bot as strong as their EP from last year in truth but still a strong addition to the catalogue in its uneasy shift from studied cool to sludgy riffs

Dinosaur Jr. - Hold Unknown
An Adult Swim Singles Club production, Mascis' guitar takes off in its compact form and it sounds not like a knockoff but something that stands alongside their post-reformation best

Ed Schrader's Music Beat - Seagull
Far too late to catch up on the Baltimore duo who released their debut in 2012, but an intriguing concoction that starts off as bass-led casual minimalism and then, aided by producer Dan Deacon, races into a sonic wormhole

Frankie Cosmos - Jesse
Standout from Vessel, Greta Kline's third album of self-questioning diary thoughts as elliptical lyrics

Gender Roles - Gills
88 seconds, one immutable riff, a whole host of forward motion punk-pop excitement she wrote

Hilary Woods - Inhaler
Slo-mo, almost modern classical based, atmospheric eeriness is Woods' stock in trade and with every release seems to develop its aura more, floating ethereally like Grouper crossing over with Julee Cruise. The album Colt is out 8th June and we can't wait

Hop Along - Prior Things
Unusual to hear strings on a Hop Along track, and indeed at not far off six minutes of straining restraint it's really not their usual approach even though Frances Quinlan still sounds anguished in her self-examination

Illuminati Hotties - Paying Off The Happiness
Kiss Yr Frenemies is a tremendous debut album of off-kilter guitar-pop that nods well at Los Campesinos! in its all-in-it-together atmosphere, unsurety about gradually becoming a responsible adult and elaborate, sometimes misleadingly peppy musical settings

itoldyouiwouldeatyou - Get Terrified
Overstaffed (now including Alexei JoFo) and full of musical ideas, shifting like math-rock and screaming into the picture like post-hardcore, with a socio-political heavy underwiring

John McCabe - April
Classy three minute Cali guitar pop that sounds even better in this weather we're having

John Parish - Sorry For Your Loss
Hey look, another low-key PJ Harvey feature! A duet with her oldest collaborator apparently about someone else who worked with both, Mark Linkous, it's mandolin-led and oddly light until an acid guitar pokes its head in

La Luz - California Finally
Harmonies, twangy surf guitars, audible steady cruising... there's a suspicion that more is going on underneath, but they sound like there's a big blue sky above them at all times

Lakookala - My Way Home
Another product of LA, this one all the work of Nicole Ranalli, but really quite different as a quicksand bassline gives way to electro beats, plinking piano and dramatic Harveyish vocals

The Lay Llamas - Silver Sun
Not related to that Silver Sun, but Italian droney-Krauty-psych from the mind of one Nicola Giunta, aided on the upcoming album by Mark Stewart and members of Goat and Clinic, all of which makes sense in context

Lithics - Excuse Generator
Twitchy unspooling riffs, springy tight-wound bass and clipped aphorism lyrics. Portland has crossbred Shopping and the Au Pairs, and the result is very satisfactory

Pip Blom - I Think I'm In Love
This had actually been around for a year already, but international rollouts and all that. That the Amsterdam band supported the Breeders in Europe makes perfect sense in this tense lo-fi choppy cut

Roxy Rawson - Rounded Sound
It's now seven years since we first wrote about Rawson, since when she's suffered ill health, moved from Hitchin to San Francisco and finally finished an upcoming album. Her command of spellbindingly offbeat string arrangements and quixotic Regina Spektor-recalling approach remains intact

The Saxophones - Picture
Californian husband and wife duo are bruised, reverbed and jazzily slo-mo like something from David Lynch's dreams. For extra points, Alexi Erenkov sounds oddly like a more legible Stuart Staples

Snail Mail - Pristine
Lindsey Jordan is nineteen, yet the Baltimore native sounds like she has the self-confidence and bittersweet tendencies of a much older songwriter, and the itchy guitar chops of one too

Steven Adams & The French Drops - Free Will
Great headline set at our Alldayer in February, Adams' way with a barbed lyric and skewed indie-rock coast unaffected. (He's also a big Charmpit fan, as should everyone be)

Tracyanne & Danny - Alabama
Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, Danny Coughlan of Crybaby, and a more overt steel guitar-fed version of the former band's countrified swooning in a tribute to their late Carey Lander

Friday, May 18, 2018

What you may have missed: February

Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert - Cockcrow
The combination of the arch-miserabilist and the emotive guitarist on album Here Lies The Body plays out almost like you'd expect, the years of bad experience adding a veneer of knowingly misleading pep. Siobhan Wilson duets on this track as the opposing voice to add another fascinating layer

Bambara - José Tries To Leave
Capital-G Gothic theatricality bringing the dramatically oppressive percussive desert-dwelling opus, Nick Cave a clear touchstone but also notable that some members are part of the current Liars live line-up

Bodies Be Rivers - Rattled
Bittersweet to a fault Brooklynites named, tellingly, after a Angel Olsen mondegreen and working against the cliches of alt-country in a Neko Case fashion

Busta Rhymes feat. Missy Elliott & Kelly Rowland - Get It
Tells you something that that line-up appeared on a standalone single (although Rowland only via looped sample) and nobody seems to have noticed, not that something this weirdly minimal would challenge Calvin Harris much. At least both are still very capable of land speed record level killer rhyming

Cavey - Day & Night
There's a lot of Grizzly Bear about the textures and general warmth, if not the harmonic excellence, about this fascinating debut single, breakdowns and surges, jazzy and sprawling in its own time

Chemtrails - Wishbone
Calf Of The Sacred Cow is for us one of the year's great overlooked albums, psychedelically inclined home-made garagey indiepop where the hooks shimmer, the ineffable melodies get pulled apart and the dark clouds often shield the sunshine element

Cloud - Two Hands Bound
A cheery song about working yourself to complete emotional burnout, Tyler Taormina develops a sepia filter around richly fulfilled rhythmic sunshine pop

Firestations - Receiver
Finally bringing out their album The Year Dot last month via Lost Map, its preview exists in an insistent melodic haze of hopeful love and lost bearings

Flamingo Shadow - It's The Sound
The Atlantans started as tropical punk and developed a big golden pop heart without losing their tracks, so the insistent rhythms and synth washes are underpinned by unease and hi-life riffs

Girlpool - Picturesong
Blood Orange-produced standalone single from a duo whose evolvement is an intrigue to watch from afar, the minimalism comfortably in the background, pulsing synths and distortion added while still luxuriating in Cleo and Harmony's vocal and carefully crafted guitar/bass interplay

Happy Accidents - Act Naturally
Everything But The Here And Now is a new personal best for the trio - ahoy there, "recorded by MJ" credit - and this might be a new best track, crackling hook-laden harmonic punk-pop of the type we always fall for

Ladytron - The Animals
First new material in seven years and they've not only picked up where they left off but made it bigger and more purposeful in its dark chant and synths set to "envelop"

The Low Anthem - Bone Of Sailor, Bone Of Bird
And there's another album much overlooked, The Salt Doll Went To Measure the Depth Of The Sea. No longer rickety folk-bluesologists, it's based on electronic undertow, very spacious, quite low-key and mysterious, and absolutely draws the listener in

Lusts - Heavy Thoughts
For a duo who usually deal in retro electropop this sounds weirdly like the Phantom Band at their most approachable in its heroic resistance structure and buried hooks

Mastersystem - Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived
Inevitably all writing about Mastersystem and this beastly swagger of a track after 8th May 2018 is irrevocably coloured by the loss of its immensely talented and open frontman and driving force. God, that title for a start.

Modern Studies - Mud And Flame
That kind of windswept, vaguely hopeful sound only a Scottish folk supergroup can really attain

Olden Yolk - Cut To The Quick
Terrible band name, fascinating sound melding indie-folk with abstract modern psych and motorik rhythms, wrapped in a glorious pop melody in a way that subtly works

Pale Kids - St. Theresa
Durham queer power-pop... no, not them. A joyous thrashing punk-pop cut, all done in just over two minutes, with purpose, lyrical bite and finding time for a solo

PJ Harvey & Harry Escott - An Acre Of Land
Again, as with her double A side last year, Polly put out a standalone single and it got lost in the hubbub. It's actually a traditional folk standard recorded with the TV and film composer for the film Dark River, with delicacy and a harmonium

Sara Renberg - Roger Miller Baby
David 'Silver Jews' Berman reincarnated as a Pittsburgh native, dealing in vivid odd little snapshots of deadpan intimacy and the better life everyone else is having

Seazoo - Skulls
*sigh* Yeah, Trunks, that's another album that slipped under the radar it should have vaulted with its leftfield power-pop ambition with a little jangle, a little new wave-y weirdness and a lot of charge

Stella Donnelly - Mechanical Bull
If we're being accurate this is about eleven months late, but the Thrush Metal EP got reissued to wider approval in February so whatever. Anyway, honest to a fault eviscerations of seedy men cutting to the quick from a talent worth keeping the closest eye on

Three Man Cannon - Building Broken Steps
Obviously there's four of them. There's something of the Pavement-y countrified jangle about them, clearly, but with heaps of bluesy scorn and just straight-up melodic college rock earwormness

The Wind-Up Birds - Where We Built Our Settlements
Always good to have them around and seething, especially as things give Paul Ackroyd more to rail against

Yndi Halda - A Sun Coloured Shaker
And to finish the month, nearly twelve minutes of studied post-rock. Yay! Doesn't feel that long, though, not with the graceful flow, pitch and yaw, led by floating violin and guitars that don't surge when they'd rather arc gracefully around

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What you may have missed: January

You're absolutely right, the very best time to launch a month-by-month series is mid-May. Regardless, we can catch up and deal with this month when we get to the end of it. What this entails is since the start of last year we've been putting together Spotify playlists for the best new music released each month, but we've never given due cause to actually explain why you should be invested in some of the records and artists we write about, so from now on at the end of each month we'll be picking out 25 new tracks we especially liked but haven't had that widespread the attention compared to many. So best start catching up with the first month eligible...


Annexe The Moon - Full Stop
It's likely unfair to ascribe a specific lineage to anything out of Merseyside touched by psychedelia, but such spaced-out channelling of Syd-era Pink Floyd in a melodic pop context sounds like the kind of thing that would have been of interest round at chez Cope/Drummond/Wylie around 1982

Caroline Says - Sweet Home Alabama
Not that one. Austin's Caroline Sallee uses loops and small town ennui for introspective folk-pop that sounds a little like Yo La Tengo at their Georgia-led drowsiest

Creep Show - Modern Parenting
Mr Dynamite, John Grant's collaboration with the weird electro trio Wrangler (Cabaret Voltaire's Stephen Mallinder, Benge and one of Tunng), had surprisingly little traction but here is of a piece, in a warped varispeeded way, with Grant's dalliances with dark disco

Dorvin Borman - Wrath
Chillwave's revenge! Well, not quite, but the LA producer's woozy summer dreampop, heavy on floating and reverb, sounds like the sound in Washed Out's head right at the start of this decade

El Morgan and the Divers - Decorations
Pretty much Personal Best in a different order, Morgan took inspiration from the aftermath of her father's wake to produce yearning, skyscraping To Bring You My love PJ Harvey-recalling intimacy

The Fiction Aisle - Gone Today
It's felt weird over the last few years not having every fourth song we write about feature Thomas White in some form. In fact he's three albums down under this moniker and finding the same kind of time-worn self-examining melancholia as Martin Carr's solo work

HOLY - Night On Earth
Stockholm's PNKSLM label have quietly put out some great left of centre psych-flavoured records this year, case in point being HOLY's All These Worlds Are Yours. Hannes Ferm clearly knows his Ziggy, Rundgren and Nilsson but also Elephant 6's multiverse and the Flaming Lips' cosmic filter

Hot Dreams - Another Night
Just ducking in even though it technically emerged right near the end of 2017, Hot Dreams have the commercial edge but a harmonic and textural mix-and-match to make them more interesting than most

Jessica's Brother - Overnight Horror
The other shambling but muscular, vaguely countrified Americana offshoot featuring a member of the Wave Pictures

John Bramwell - From The Shore
The I Am Kloot frontman's solo debut Leave Alone The Empty Spaces extended what he's always been strong on, indelible melodies and downtrodden character studies (what was it he always said, "drinking and disaster"?)

Loma - Joy
Texan folk duo Cross Record plus Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg make rustic, richly panoramic alt-country with stripes of Low

The Longcut - Deathmask
Yes, the same Longcut who were feted for a little while back around 2004-05, back after an eight year break and still pushing at elemental, accelerating electro-motorik

Mamuthones - Show Me
Italian post-punk ahoy! Awkwardly shifting, insistently recurring, jarring and yet also smooth amid its jitteriness in a Talking Heads style

Math & Physics Club - Broadcasting Waves
Long-serving Seattle indiepop servants find the mid-point between classic Death Cab For Cutie and an almost Australian sense of wistful jangle

NADINE - Pews
Experimental pop as she is spoke, discordant rhythms evolve via Nadia Hulett's charmed vocals into something lush if still uneasy

No Age - Cruise Control
With The Smell a distant memory and five years passed since their disappointing last record Snares Like A Haircut has ended up an album that's been too slept on, the duo channelling Zen Arcade/New Day Rising Husker Du in uncertain power for what might actually be their best yet

Ralegh Long - Am I Home
Long's folkified balladeering side is at its most emotive when sounding pastoral and sparse even when enveloped in strings, as here

Red Telephone - Kookly Rose
A crackling debut from the Cardiff trio, taking a Syd Barrett lead in its warped woozy psych

Shopping - Wild Child
Just because you know what to expect - heavily danceable ESG-type punk-funk wiriness with an incessant bassline - doesn't mean there's nothing going on with The Official Body, both in social conscience, subtle undercurrents and muscle

Sivu - Four Leaf Clover Love
In something of a theme, a low-key release from someone who had a lot of attention two or three years ago. In this case, an open-hearted tender love song to the fates

Skelhorn - A Wondrous Place Of Our Own
Liverpudlian singer-songwriter sounds archaic and modern simultaneously in a similar way to how Richard Hawley does without really treading the same path, here more of the kind of postmodern crooning that David Lynch would admire

Soccer Mommy - Your Dog
Sophie Allison's broken but defiant bedroom guitar-pop is an idea as old as indie itself, but the open frustration at a controlling relationship finds its equal in the distortion that threatens to override her likeably twisting central riff. It feels like she's going to grow into a major talent

The Spook School - Keep In Touch
The way things are now the Spook School are never going to get the wide audience breakthrough we thought would be within reach, but Could It Be Different? yet again sharpened to a point their emotional growth and self-questioning while retaining everything that makes them one of our greatest bands, Niall banter/hugs inclusive

Wild Child - Sinking Ship
Another Austin-based band, and yep, another Wild Child, and yet very different on both fronts in its spaciously haunted acoustic self-learning reminiscent of Laura Marling's most introspective moments. Interestingly, even they don't sound like this most of the time

Yawwn - Partisan
One of those big hooky choruses like your favourite bands do these days, but full of life and surrounded by something akin to a settled down Everything Everything.