Friday, February 23, 2024

New sounds: 23/2/24

Another Sky - Swirling Smoke
Fascinating band, Another Sky. Coming towards a second album (Beach Day, 1st March) they never became as big as some thought they would be on arrival or that their skyscraping sonics suggested. The good thing is, they don't care, they're just going to plough their own furrow driven by Catrin Vincent's distinctively haunted, androgynous vocals. Driven by a ticking electronic loop that almost turns into a breakbeat, dreampop soar and delicate Sundays-reminiscent guitar part it breaks through its own malaise onto the other side of something.

Girl And Girl - Hello
There's almost a Gilla Band thing going on with Brisbane's Girl And Girl's name, in that they do have one female member but she's the drummer. Also she's the singer's aunt, which puts them in the same interpersonal band relationship category as the New Pornographers, Tubeway Army and LMFAO. It's the first of those that's closest to their too jittery for power-pop, too classically melodic for post-punk sounds that seems closest to the more direct elements of mid-00s blog-rock. Debut album Call A Doctor is out on Sub Pop in May. And yes, that's absolutely a great name for the first single on a new label.

Isobel Campbell - 4316
Campbell has over this last quarter-century quietly amassed an interesting, varied catalogue across three collaborations with Mark Lanegan, one with Bill Wells and now a sixth solo album, Bow To Love out May 17th, which in its lightly psychedelic, strummy and whispery way harks back to her Gentle Waves records.

Kim Gordon - I'm A Man
Let it never be said that Kim Gordon, 71 in April, settles down. 2019's No Home Record was practically avant-trap at times, continued on to BYE BYE, the first track from The Collective, out March 8th. In that context I'm A Man takes that idea and runs further into industrial noise with a beat, while still sounding like the same person who drawled through Kool Thing now taking the character of toxic masculinity.

Magana - Paul
LA-based Jeni Magana is an old favourite of ours, turning up in our 2016 tracks of the year list. In more recent times she's found a decent gig playing bass for Mitski, between which being-screamed-at-by-proxy times she's made a second solo album, Teeth out March 25th on the once again active Audio Antihero. Paul is built on frail acoustic guitar and a vocal weighed down by the melancholia of grief, accompanied by strings, woodwind and wheezing synth that push the emotions forward rather than the overpowerment they could easily have become.

mary in the junkyard - Ghost
mary in the junkyard are one of those Brixton Windmill affiliated bands. No, come back. Produced by Richard Russell, not the last time that will feature in this post, theirs is a spidery, spindly world, Clari Freeman-Taylor one of those vocalists who commands both grit and otherworldliness against an intricate, surging or holding back interplay in a way Big Thief fans will find much to spiritually recognise.

Murder Club - Shots?!
A proper live favourite from Newport's bubblepunks from the upcoming concept EP Night Out, a song about new friendship set entirely in a nightclub women's toilet. Because why not? Hey, they're playing our Leicester Indiepop Alldayer next Saturday! It sold out in October. Soz.

SAM MORTON - Cry Without End
Yes, SAM MORTON are named after Samantha Morton. That's because it is Samantha Morton, collaborating with XL's Richard Russell and on this track idiosyncratic saxophonist Alabaster dePlume. Morton actually starts this, the pair's first full-scale release after two 2023 vinyl-only releases, acapella before her sighing, gossamer delivery is accompanied by a ghostly circling emerges that might have qualified as ambient were it not allowing strange frequencies and interjections to butt in.

sunnbrella - have your say
One of our ongoing themes in recent times has been the quality of TikTok-attracting modern dreampop, as in there is very little. The number of times we've heard Souvlaki mined in increasingly lazy ways makes us start to agree with Nicky Wire. Despite having released a slowed down version of his most streamed previous track which usually has us warming up the attack drones, Prague-born, London-based David Zbirka drives a breakbeat coach and horses right through all that on a track that sets itself up as melancholy on loneliness and then assaults it with rushing jungle and electronics as if chillwave had gone glitch or Future Sound Of London were trying to address hyperpop going on word of mouth alone.


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

New sounds: 14/2/24

Dancer - Change
It's this lot again! Etc etc Glasgow etc 10 Songs I Hate About You on March 15th etc a superior slice of askew post-punk that keeps deliberately tripping up over and reordering the constituent parts of itself before getting to its indelible chorus at 1:38, which it obviously doesn't repeat.

Gurriers - Des Goblin
Talking of undeniable post-punk, which this update is full of, Dublin'srecent Slowdive support go to the disco, forcibly tear down the decor and replace it with spiked psychedelic patterns, all with a bassline you could build a tenement upon.

John Glacier & Eartheater - Money Shows
So here's two of the kinds of names that people in the know have been throwing around over the last couple of years that being white suburbanites we'd missed until now. John Glacier is a stream of consciousness rapper from Hackney whose Like A Ribbon EP, out on February 23rd on Young Records (The xx, FKA twigs, Sampha), is led by a track featuring the experimental electronic producer Eartheater and produced by Kwes Darko who did the Slowthai albums, on which her flow dips almost into spoken word over darkly intensive, foreboding beats smartly produced by what sounds like a guitar loop.

Les Savy Fav - Legendary Tippers
Bring forth the hulking mightily bearded either overclothed or barely clothed frame, usually hanging off the girders and/or covered in other people's pints, of Tim Harrington. They're back in the country next weekend and curating a Spring Bank Holiday alldayer at Leeds' saintly Brudenell Social with an album to follow at some time, but before that their first new song in FOURTEEN years piles Seth Jabour's signature firing off at acute angles guitar parts onto their muscular post-punk scaffolding amid Harrington being all gnomic.

Lip Critic - The Heart
Oh, "electropunk". So much of a tendency to fall into shouty abrasiveness just for the sake of shouty abrasiveness that when someone works out what it should be and bends its parameters to their own will you need to pay attention. Such is the case with New York's dual drummered, recently signed to Partisan Records Lip Critic, whose by all accounts spectacular live show has seen them play with rappers and hardcore bands alike. Oft compared to Death Grips, The Heart sounds interestingly like Fat Dog's command of squelching, intense electro and primal, pummelling post-punk as a singular entity, by way of any number of mid-00s bands playing like the pedals are lava. They're playing End Of The Road, marvellously.

Lo Seal - El Pomodor
We became aware of Cologne's Lo Seal as their new EP Blok features a co-vocal from Rubee of SMILE, who you might recall from our end of 2023 list made possibly the best album you didn't know about last year. Its first track doesn't but is an existentially threatening take on dark, jittery noise-pop.

Mammoth Penguins - Species
Hey, they're round ours soon! The Cambridge-based trio's Leicester Indiepop Alldayer slot will be followed on 3rd May by fourth album Here, which itself is preceded by a rattling supercharged jangle with menaces and Emma Kupa's signature smart self-examining.

Parsnip - The Light
Less than two minutes of playfully off-kilter pop that sounds like it might have comb prongs being "played" in the background and in its effervescence really, with the possible exception of Sarah Records' catalogue, could only come from Australia. Melbourne, to be precise. Their second album Behold is out on the mighty Upset The Rhythm on April 26th.

Punchlove - Screwdriver
New Yorker shoegaze revival that understands what the best shoegaze actually sounded like for once - bendy guitar tone, subsumed vocals, pedal abuse, heroic attempts at solos, a noisy soundworld that lends itself to a video in which paint is thrown around in tinted negative, and a bit where it pretends to tune out completely. Their debut album Channels is out on 1st March.

ALSO-RANS (or: these are all just as great but we can't be arsed to write any more and you already know whose these people are)
Beth Gibbons – Floating On A Moment
Iron & Wine - You Never Know
Laetitia Sadier - Who + What
Little Simz - Mood Swings
Yard Act feat. Katy J Pearson - When The Laughter Stops


Thursday, February 01, 2024

New sounds: 1/2/24

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Snake Plant (The Past Is Still Alive)
A new album from the exploratory itinerant expansive sunlight-exposed folk-indie singer-songwriter known to their familiars as Alynda Segarra is always a very good prospect, The Past Is Still Alive out February 23rd being their ninth. The sort of title track strings together a series of desert road trip images into a tale of escape into the yonder land, working up to a personal reckoning.

pencil - The Window
We first came across pencil in demo form when they were the most quietly interesting of the bands put forward for the Green Man Rising contest last year, winning their way through to playing the festival's Rising stage (we missed them. It was pissing down. You would have stopped under canvas for a bit too.) Led by Kamran Khan, who you might vaguely remember as late 10s lo-fi singer-songwriter Fake Laugh, with former members of Swim Deep, Cagoule and the Philharmonic Orchestra, and signed to the storied Moshi Moshi label, their second single exudes a confidence in its regretful acoustic strum before Coco Inman's violin drives it into cinematic territory.

Katherine Priddy - Anyway, Always
Birmingham's Priddy has been the toast of the crossover folk scene over the last few years and keeps things lively with second album The Pendulum Swing, out 16th February, and a liltingly poetic single of lingering regret.

Passing mention for Dana Gavanski's Let Them Row, a second excellent taster of her forthcoming LATE SLAP, but we just wrote about the first one)

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

New sounds: 24/1/24

English Teacher - Albert Road
At last, an album is on the way, This Could Be Texas due April 12th. Heralded by Lily Fontaine's magnificent quote "I want this album to feel like you’ve gone to space and it turns out it's almost identical to Doncaster", this single is them in contemplative mode narrating small town life slowly building in intensity towards something beatific. This band might just be becoming the best of us all.

Bolis Pupul - Spicy Crab
We were hopelessly late to the Belgian musician and Soulwax protege's 2022 collaboration with Charlotte Adigery, like they could care what a bedroom blogger with double figure readership thinks given how critically successful it was and how successfully they carried off its live energy. Now on his own for the first time Letter To You, due 8th March, has already been trailed by the superior synthpop of Completely Half, now followed by a driving instrumental of part-Moroder part-Glass shifting electronic loops and glissando keyboard patterns towards an acid breakdown.

Tomato Flower - Saint
The Baltimore band supported Animal Collective on tour off the back of two 2022 EP's and while not that oblique themselves the influence of Stereolab's more pop-facing moments shines through amid lightly jangling guitars and the kind of oblique tripping-itself-up clatter we've heard in the past from English Teacher, especially at the end when the rhythm section fall down the stairs behind Austyn Wohlers' reaching for the stars vocals. Album No is also out 8th March.

Arab Strap - Bliss
Their second "reformation" album, out May 10th, is called 'I'm totally fine with it 👍 don't give a fuck anymore 👍'. They may finally have reached their final form. As for the song it's Arab Strap, electro-beats version, Aidan reversing on some of his previous implied attitude in exploring the world of machismo and misogyny.

Slow Fiction - Apollo
Brooklyn's Slow Fiction have been around for a couple of years and look set to be fast-tracked by new label So Young Records (Lime Garden, Folly Group, Gently Tender) into a space they belong in, one of explosiveness and quiet-loud crunchiness like a Wolf Alice who can afford to let go more readily, almost anthemic without pandering to festival crowds or anything so craven.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

New sounds: 18/1/24

Adrianne Lenker - sadness as a gift
Big Thief are taking a calendar year off, so obviously Buck Meek immediately released a solo album and Adrianne has one, Bright Future, out on March 22nd. Just to make it more confusing the band have been playing this live since April 2022. (They do this - there's an Adrianne's Version of Vampire Empire on the album and indeed when we saw them on last April's tour they opened with a song called Bright Future that doesn't appear to be on the album) Whatever, it's a heartaching beautiful countrified lament that alongside Ruined bodes excellently.

Lutalo & Claud – Running
Meanwhile Adrianne's cousin Lutalo Jones, whose 2023 album Again showcased a superior form of kinetic politicised bedroom indie, has teamed up with someone else who has a left of bedroom-indie-centrist approach and a celebrity lifter (Phoebe Bridgers signed Claud for Saddest Factory) for a synth-layered insistent story of strained interpersonal relationships with a hint of summer. Yeah, we know.

Jane Weaver - Perfect Storm
It feels a little like Weaver's trademark twisted take on electro-psych-pop is leaning more towards the last element on this from another newly announced album, Love In Constant Spectacle out April 5th being her twelfth, with its big direct pop song structure and lush major key chorus embedded within her usual dreamy, intrinsically melancholic in a spaced-out way approach. How much of this is the pushing of producer John Parish wouldn't be fair on Weaver to speculate as between the retro-futurist flourishes, motorik rhythm and arpeggiating synths this is very much her vision.

Holiday Ghosts - Sublime Disconnect
Falmouth's Holiday Ghosts have been ploughing their garage-surf furrow for a while now, Coat Of Arms due March 29th being their fifth album. They've definitely streamlined what they do in that time, the first single sporting a thrusting chorus, play-dumb insistent riff, Kat Rackin's staccato venting on place and identity and ba-ba-bas in its only just over two minutes second length. And most importantly: singing drummer!

Monday, January 15, 2024

New sounds: 15/1/24

Murder Club - Pictures Of Myself
You may have seen that the Newport 'sugarpunks' are coming round ours in just under seven weeks' time for the Leicester Indiepop Alldayer (tickets long since sold out, soz); what we haven't had from them is any new music since their Sour Candy EP in February 2022. That's changing soon with a second EP, a concept one at that, Night Out describing the titular event starting with the preparation phase, delivered in the kind of melodically classic indiepop, twee as they used to call it if they were particularly brave, that has the kind of semi-buried edge that Peaness fans will recognise. Heavenly do-do-do's too.

Dancer - Passionate Sunday
For a group made up of members of several longer established Glasgow bands Dancer are hella productive, two EPs in quick succession last year being followed on March 15th by an album, 10 Songs I Hate About You. The first cut starts pensively before striking out with an angular, strident bassline, Gemma Fleet actually singing this time around and a yo-yoing synth line that presumably comes from that synthpad contraption those who've seen them live knows the guitarist straps onto his instrument. Splendid.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

New sounds: 10/1/24

We've started a rolling Spotify playlist of everything featured on here this year

Julia Holter - Spinning
Holter's sixth album Something In The Room She Moves, out 22nd March, has already been heralded by the shards of light in Sun Girl; now she finds a weird circularity, a looping percussive glitch around which winds plenty of intricate detail between synths to colour in the corners, woodwind flourishes, cymbal splashes, odd little noises seemingly from the mental image woodlands and Holter's elliptical appeals.

Chemtrails - Bang Bang
We've been writing about Mia, Laura and friends' psych-garage doomscroll rush, and put them on twice, that we fully expect you to be fully across everything they do by now. But just in case... the last single from The Joy of Sects, released 19th January, might actually be the most approachable thing they've done by their own terms an authentically grimy glam stomper with sinister motives aforefront, described by themselves as "from the point of view of a bragging crypto bro".

Enabling Behaviour - Stressor
"Overtly pretentious and emotionally sterile, Enabling Behaviour are probably the most overrated band you've heard all year... their sound has been described as "unbearable noise" by their neighbours - but don't let that put you off, because they need the ticket sales to afford their extravagant and hedonistic lifestyles." Oh, cheers, guys. Yes, the Cardiff ace band factory has whirred its cogs once more and deposited... well, a band who formed in Falmouth, actually, but after a handful of singles in the last two years their emergence to our ears finds them brooding like nobody's business before taking off with the kind of vaulting guitar sounds that both skewer and threaten to make the notion of dreampop worthwhile once more around Liz Allison's part-whispery, part-Rachel Goswell-y vocals.

Stuart Pearce - Nuclear Football
Not that one. We mean, obviously not that one. The possibility of him putting out high quality music in 2024 is remote. No, this is Stuart Pearce the agit-post-punk band from Nottingham, with more than a little early Fall about them but who hasn't these days - actually the Nightingales might be a more accurate comparison, with added radar detection synth and a frantic hair trigger about their politicised compactness.

Dana Gavanski - How To Feel Uncomfortable
We've long admired Gavanski's expansive take on indie-folk so news third album LATE SLAP, out April 5th, was produced by Tunng/LUMP's Mike Lindsay promises much. The first track... well, it sounds quite a lot like Cate Le Bon, which might be as much in the sax parps as the phrasing.

They Hate Change - Wallabies & Weejuns
If anything helped serve to demonstrate End Of The Road's edge away from the alt-Americana that made its name it was the spectacular, energetic for an early afternoon packed Big Top set by the Floridian experimental rap/production duo, swapping hard-edged rhymes over Miami bass by way of British club sounds. The advance track from their Wish You Were Here​.​.​. EP, out 26th January and with a blurb that both explains its inspiration from their transatlantic travels and a shout-out to Greggs breakfasts, is produced by Sheffield/Manchester experimentalist 96 Back and traverses the beats through a d'n'b breakdown and out onto the R&B floor.

Monday, January 08, 2024

New sounds 8/1/24

My Best Unbeaten Brother - Slayer On A Sunny Day
Remember how we wanged on for years about Superman Revenge Squad, Ben Parker's wry and far too close to the bone at times solo project? And then when their album posthumously came out Nosferatu D2, Ben Parker's dynamic preceding duo with remarkable drummer brother Adam? Well, Ben's back recording for the first time since 2015 and the pair have got together with a third member in Ben Fry to deal in not dissimilar and therefore excellent waters, propulsive, heartfelt and philosophical in its awkward charge.

James Jonathan Clancy - I Want You
And another old favourite - we've been long-time supporters of a lot of the music Canadian born but for as long as we've known about him Bologna based Clancy has released in various forms. His first record under his birth name, inspired by the "apocalyptic pastoralism" of comic artist Michelangelo Setola, slips between retro-futurist detuning VHS synths, bucolic ambient folk, Scott Walker avant-garde and on this track a skyscrapingq quasi-spiritual psych-folk reminiscent of John Martyn circa Solid Air getting stranded in space.

Lilith Ai - Burner Phone
One of the stars of this year's Leicester Indiepop Alldayer returns by reframing her intensely personal songs into scrappy garage rock, swiping most of the Hate To Say I Told You So riff for something that could have come out of a mid-west basement in the early 90s as a means of singing about resilience, or as she puts it "conquering fear of showing up as yourself". Oh, what's this?

Buck Meek - Beauty Opens Doors
No sooner have Big Thief announced a year-long hiatus then both their main songwriters head straight out solo, with Adrianne Lenker's album rumoured for early spring and Meek releasing a fluttering prairie country offcut from August's Haunted Mountain album that's better than most of what made it onto the tracklisting.

Ricardo Autobahn - The Hands Of Porsche
It's now a good quarter of a century since Autobahn started mining the intersection of sampling, Eurodance beats and unashamed strain of novelty with the Cuban Boys, then being the power behind Daz Sampson's throne, being half of synth-pop post-ironists Spray, taking the synths in Helen Love, joining up with normal man Phil Fletcher to form TV theme cover duo the Pound Shop Boys and in all likelihood a thousand other things we've missed. This time around, from a forthcoming concept album (obviously), 1960s corporate fast car speak gets the cut-up treatment.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Trailing in late from 2023

Project Overload - Second Chances
Project Overload - Moving Mayhem
See, this Coventry five-piece who release their debut album New Beginnings on the 19th is the kind of thing people should really have flocked to tip us off at the time (er, November) about given they deal in the kind of bright janglepop with sharp elbows that feels very redolent of post-C86 or the Blonde Movement bands while surely too young to know what exactly those mean.

Jim Nothing - Raleigh Arena
Well, why not make a record about the joy of cycling in this day and age? Especially one that like the Auckland singer-songwriter flirts with psych-rock in several of its forms, switching seamlessly between stratospheric guitar pyro and synth-motorik.

Thorn Dells - Surface
Staying in New Zealand - Dunedin, in fact - for more synths and steady rhythms but of a very different type, layering on the threatening electro that slowly closes its iron claw around you. Those who follow the Sink Ya Teeth diaspora or Shelf Lives may find much to fascinate.

Blanket Approval - You Think It's Funny
They're from New York, and in a funny not-too-cool-for-you way it shows. They have things to say to the wrong people and a synth-lifted, strident quasi-Throwing Muses nerviness where the vocals come in at strange angles helping take it from stomping to jangling to cresting.

VIAL - ur dad
103 seconds of hooky, spiky, brattiness overload punk-pop, a genre that we're fully awareness is almost as debased as a genre term as dreampop these days but this is as they would have understood it in its original form. And yes, the Minneapolis trio want *your* dad.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

STN's top 40 albums of 2023

40 The National - Laugh Track
Very comfortably the superior of their two albums this year, partly because there's audible actual drums on it, partly for eschewing its ennui for moments of catharsis

39 Marlody - I'M NOT SURE AT ALL
Sparse, poignant keys-led hymnality of intentional mystery that at times recalls a claustrophobic early Kate Bush

38 Crosslegged - Another Blue
Keba Robinson's chiming, open-hearted take on expansive indie-folk seems keen not to take the easy route with meditative breakdowns, complex rhythmic moments and the odd Bjork-ish flourish

37 SLUG - Thy Socialite!
Field Music sideman Ian Black continues their old attempt to unite every era of XTC in one but this time trying to turn arena rock guitars into glammy, awry art-pop

36 Anna Hillburg - Tired Girls
Self-determination and judging a woman's place in the world wrapped up in widescreen Americana and chamber pop like a lower budget Weyes Blood with hints of Calexico

35 Blur - The Ballad Of Darren
The middle-aged spread of inertia leads to contemplation of what's been lost and what they still have, namely (on the musical side at least) melodic sure-footedness, belief in the unit, the odd Graham explosion

34 Death & Vanilla - Flicker
Refining their meld of Broadcastable retro-futurist electronic waves and unknowable hazy dream-pop into an ambient sphere just out of actual grasp

33 Panic Pocket - Mad Half Hour
Slightly ragged and absolutely singularly determined in the way of the best DIY indiepop, jangles and synth underlines decorated with indelible hooks

32 Neev - Katherine
Intimate acoustic (with considerate augmentations) late night singer-songwriter storytelling telling of trapped emotions, moments of realisation and the odd unreliable narrator

31 bar italia - Tracey Denim
Three untutored voices, a multitude of angles on modern socialising and a series of skeletal constructions owing a debt to the shuffling, fuzz pedalled lo-fi early 90s sound

30 Black Belt Eagle Scout - The Land, The Water, The Sky
Katherine Paul's return to her tribal community inspired a reclamation through-line to a landscape where lush, vulnerable melodies and atmospheric passages grind up against metallic squalls

29 Spearmint - This Candle Is For You
Their best album in a while, scanning across the styles of their career in examining the pushes and pulls of mystery and actuality, creativity and domestication, nostalgia and onwardness, self-criticism and fantasy

28 H Hawkline - Milk For Flowers
Lushly arranged Nilsson/McCartney classicist writing allied to the whimsical slow burning Americana/psych-pop wheelhouse of producer Cate Le Bon as a treatise on personal grief and what comes next

27 Dream Wife - Social Lubrication
The album we knew they had in them all along, big riffs and post-Riot Grrrl anger leavened with aware humour aiming for the dancing feet and state of society brain simultaneously

26 Witching Waves - Streams And Waterways
Concentrated thrusting fuzzbomb energy affixed to indelible melodies and strident eyes-on-the-prize Martha-adjacent choruses

25 SMILE - Price Of Progress
The best talky post-punk album you didn't hear this year comes from a Cologne based with an American "singer" whose anxiety driven angularity updates Throwing Muses or Kim Gordon's Sonic Youth moments

24 Hamish Hawk - Angel Numbers
A flamboyant presence filled with lyrical wordplay acuity against a big music that spans windswept heartland rock to a broadly filled out intimacy

23 Islet - Soft Fascination
Wales' most inscrutable return by finding a path through their dual musical identites, half uneasy and spikily arrythmic, half ambient and almost ritualistic

22 ME REX - Giant Elk
The ideal encapsulation of Myles' soul-baring pop-punk on the emo side, sometimes sounding as enormous as the beasts the songs are named after

21 Angelo De Augustine - Toil And Trouble
The Sufjan collaborator's voice and augmented guitar style may bear a resemblance but his miniature worlds are more concerned with the fantasy in and of little things, trying to find a place in hopelessness

20 Baxter Dury - I Thought I Was Better Than You
Wherein the "budget nepo baby" wrestles with his upbringing, borrows some modish hip-hop production tricks to augment his familiar chanson/East End poet combination and comes to no conclusion except his own untrustworthiness

19 CMAT - Crazymad, For Me
Scathingly witty, pop culturally overaware, knowingly melodramatic, able to reshape pop moves in her own image - Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson is ever more a Rebecca Lucy Taylor with a country lilt

18 Youth Lagoon - Heaven Is A Junkyard
One of the surprises of the year as Trevor Powers relaunches his old identity for a collection of close-miked, vulnerable explorations of the dirty underside of suburban Americana to stately piano and electronic beats

17 Jen Cloher - I Am The River, The River Is Me
Inspired by Cloher's Maori heritage, a layered warmth expands their distorted indie-folk horizons into haka chants, soul and electro and similarly lyrically, not just ancestrally but politically but sexually

16 The Tubs - Dead Meat
Felt meets Richard Thompson meets Sugar meets the Smiths meets the Feelies... you could go on like this for some time but the ex-Joanna Gruesome-driven power-pop merchants sound fully formed already

15 Grian Chatten - Chaos For The Fly
Isn't it embarrassing when a band frontman's solo project turns out to be stronger - enveloping, swooning, capable of sounding both down and out and amid the rainbows, richly poetic in detail - than the parent?

14 boygenius - the record
DISCOURSE DISCOURSE DISCOURSE. But ultimately it's just a coming together of three self-assured harmonising singer-songwriters beloved of their own union, upliftingly rich in detail musically and lyrically

13 Muriel - Muriel
Zak Thomas' songs expand the moments where bruised narrative singer-songwriting blossoms into evocatively abundant coastal-reminiscent soundscapes, painting out to the edges in resonant colours

12 Mitski - The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We
A step back, as much as someone with those kind of fans can take, into a spectral country-pop setting open to arid plains, epic showstealer mode in its biggest arrangements and small-room intimate at others

11 Algiers - Shook
Having started as righteously furious and not found much to let up about since, their industrial gospel hires a collection of like-minded collaborators to come on like a modern radical R&B take on the Bomb Squad

10 Anna B Savage - in|FLUX
Rich in voice, lyrical detail and shifting backing colour, Savage harbours a continued refusal to give in, dissecting and compartmentalising emotional toxicity

9 CHROMA - Ask For Angela
Rhondda Cynon Taf's finest, propulsive post-punk moves laced within thunderous rolling intensity about mental health, harassment, feminist infighting and so forth through the enormous voice of Katie Hall

The best album Graham Coxon was involved in this year, bringing a cinematic drama and glue to Rose Elinor Dougall's Broadcast-pastoralisms and Coxon's antsy prog-punk breakdowns

7 Kara Jackson - Why Does The Earth Give Us People To Love?
The year's best debut album, elegantly poetic treatises on love and loss in an uncaring world, delivered with equal unerringness and humour, lifted by its subtle surroundings without losing the central threads.

6 Corinne Bailey Rae - Black Rainbows
The year's biggest surprise by some distance, inspired by archives of Black art into raw treatises mining psychedelic soul, Afrojazz, electronics, torch song and Riot Grrl as if alike

5 Wednesday - Rat Saw God
Small town USA in its no-hoper, grimy fine detail, expressed in a fretful place where pedal steel laden Americana, revivalist college rock of a Soccer Mommy stripe and noisy explosions co-habit

4 ANONHI & the Johnsons - My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross
Styled after What's Going On?, ANONHI gets the band back together for a blue-eyed soul and gospel examination of the self, of what death leaves behind and her continuing anguish at climate change inaction

3 PJ Harvey - I Inside The Old Year Dying
Adapted from last year's Dorset dialect poetry book Orlam, this one finds Harvey in the spectral clifftop falsetto mode of White Chalk adapted into a drifting near-dreamscape to absolutely lose yourself in

2 Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy
The year's most intense live experience was born from an act of joyful resistance and liberation, funnelling looped gospel spirituals, primal blues-rock and electronically aided breakdowns into overwhelming communality

1 Sufjan Stevens - Javelin
A second attempt by Sufjan to come to musical terms with grief, need for deliverance and picking over the detail (and this is all before his being struck down by Guillain-Barré syndrome) by blossoming intimate, intricate songs into kaleidoscopic life that take from his remarkable previous range of styles and still find themselves as a singular, remarkable whole