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?