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

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.