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

Monday, December 18, 2023

STN's 60 tracks of 2023

IT'S LIIIIIISTMAAAAAS! Our top forty albums of the year will follow on Wednesday, but in the meantime here's our sixty best songs of the year, not ordered like some do because that would be madness, and all having to be on Spotify means we can't acknowledge Mclusky but such is life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Dancer - Love

We came across Glasgow sort-of-supergroup Dancer back in February when we were highly impressed by their awkward groove take on sprechgesang norms, since when we've seen them live - and so can you in October as they're playing London, Southend, Nottingham and Oxford with math instrumentalists Theresa Kelly and Dry Cleaning busman's holidaying fingerpicker TD - and accepted that they have magnetically on-point art-post-punkish expressiveness up the wazoo. And so it further seems with news of a second EP, As Well, on 13th October. The Life Without Buildings comparisons have been more than done already but it's most apparent in the way the constituent parts of Love play off each other and almost sprawl outwards in their own adroit while still nervy pace. Good to hear Gemma Fleet is still carefully pre-announcing the tracks too.

Fazerdaze - Bigger
Office Dog - Big Air
The Serfs - Electric Like An Eel

Friday, September 22, 2023

Get Wrong - It's So Easy

Yeah, funnily enough the Martha/Spook School collaboration has been fast-tracked into full blog honours, why do you ask? Yes, Adam Todd has returned from the moon in advance of the rest of the band's upcoming tenth anniversary dates, landed in Durham and united with four stringer Naomi Griffin for a self-titled EP to be released on 1st December through reliable old Alcopop! in the UK. Just to make sure we'd really love it it's produced, recorded, and mixed by Field Music's Peter Brewis, with David on mastering duty. And after all that... actually it's not what you may expect, as the pair decided to swerve their well known backgrounds and embrace their love of 80s synthpop (yeah, we know that's not exactly breaking new ground, but keep going) and current pop tropes, producing in its lead track something infectious that pulses and drones like dreampop while finding a new speck of space on the crowded neon dancefloor, while lyrically touching on areas both bands have approached, expressing love and affection through the joy, nostalgia and opportunity in the everyday. It's the most likeable retro-futurist electro track we've heard in a good while, and also features the lyric "you eat crisps louder than anyone I've ever encountered".

bar italia - my little tony
Crumb & Melody's Echo Chamber - Le Temple Volant
The David Tattersall Group - Bright Moon
Emma Anderson - Clusters
Spearmint - Prince And Joni
Sufjan Stevens – Will Anybody Ever Love Me?

Friday, September 15, 2023

Mclusky - unpopular parts of a pig/the digger you deep

Feels like this bit is unnecessary, but here goes. Having reformed, after a fashion given two thirds of them were serving in Future Of The Left in between, in 2014 this is the first new Mclusky material in nineteen years, a four track double A-side/EP/something released to fund a US tour with a full album promised for next year. And... it sounds like Mclusky. Which is to say it thunders like a bastard thrashing its way to the centre of the earth and Falco's lyrics are still far clear of everyone else's in their blast range.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Chemtrails - Business Class War Paint

Concentrating readers and STN Presents... supporters will know how much everything Mia, Laura and the rest do has excited us across two albums of full-on hook-laden acid-psych-garage. Having made their first two albums in their living room and since the last moved to Manchester the third, due early in 2024, was entrusted to Margo Broom, whose credits include both Big Joanie albums and Fat White Family's Songs For Our Mothers among a general selection of cussed noisemongers. It's a good sideways shift too, toned down maybe half a notch as they find a peppy groove to complement the askew melody and ever present creeping existential dread, throwing in a girl group vocal breakdown to complement the harmonies because they can. If you're in or near Manchester, Nottingham, Worcester, London or Sheffield they're on their way to you in the first half of next month.

TVAM - Costasol
Slate - St Agatha

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

ME REX - Giant Giant Giant

After seven EPs and that one album they did comprising 52 song snippets that could be played in any order (Megabear), indie-post-emo titans and headliners of this year's Leicester Indiepop Alldayer* ME REX are finally becoming an album band as of October 20th, which is when Giant Elk is released. Its second single typically sets Myles McCabe's tumbling fountain of ideas and self-examination against similarly post-Los Campesinos! anxious build and release into an impassioned chorus.

(* tickets available for 2024 now! Now! Now! Lineup to follow in a few weeks, and if all goes well with putting it together we're surer than ever it'll sell out double quick)

Grrrl Gang - Better Than Life
HALEY - Walk Among The Dead
HMS Morris - Balls
Lael Neale - I'll Be Your Star
Laurence-Anne - Vitesse
Melin Melyn - I Paint Dogs
Muriel - Lavender By The Frames
Problem Patterns - Poverty Tourist
Swansea Sound - Twentieth Century
University - Notre Dame Made Out Of Flesh

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Away for the summer?

Yeah, we've let things lapse a little. As an apology of musical sorts, here's a 40-strong playlist of (probably) everything we'd have featured since our last post on July 3rd:

(While we've got Spotify open, the Unglamorous Sampler is on there now)

Monday, July 03, 2023

Corinne Bailey Rae - New York Transit Queen

So we were casually looking at Spotify's punk playlist the other day and noticed it included a new track by Corinne Bailey Rae, the Leeds neo-soul singer who nearly became about as big as any British soul talent could. Weird algorithm glitch, right? Well... before falling into the local soul scene and being spotted she was in a band called Helen, which she has said was inspired by Veruca Salt and L7 and nearly got signed to Roadrunner Records, and covered Belly's Low Red Moon on her 2011 covers EP The Love. Her forthcoming fourth album, Black Rainbows, her first in seven years (out September 15th), is inspired by the archive of the Chicago installation artist and Black urban communities specialist Theaster Gates and seems like it will be a genre hopping exercise using her usual sound as a springboard. New York Transit Queen, taking after Thelma Potter, who in 1947 became the first African-American to win the Miss Subways competition in NYC, is sub-two minutes of handclaps, vocal cadence like a schoolyard chant and a big hook riff, all like something that might have been heard in a subterranean dive in Portland or Olympia, Washington around 1990, or indeed the Highbury Garage around 1997 (see posts passim). I f this ends up as a one-off stylistically it's a spectacular one.

Blur - St Charles Square
Furrowed Brow - Outdoors Man
Das Koolies - A Ride
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam - Apocalypse
LYR - Paradise Lost
Good News - Kishki
DAAY – Top Heavy
Rachael Lavelle - Let Me Unlock Your Full Potential
Trips And Falls - Wandering Thoughts
The Hazmats - Skewed View

Friday, June 30, 2023

66 From 6 - Sweeping The Nation's First Half Of 2023

As it says - now we're officially halfway through, here's a representative sample of the best tracks of the year so far.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Islet - Euphoria

Or as we know them round here, The Band We Once Played A Quiz Machine With. Thirteen years in Islet are not only proven as one of Britain's most underappreciated acts, they're cast iron one of our greatest live bands, kinetic energy in the red creating waves of manicured noise whilst charging around stages and audiences. They're not half bad on record either, whether meditating or heading for the jugular. Back to a four-piece again, Soft Fascination (out 29th September)'s first single picks up many of their previous strands, synths spearing into space following Emma Daman Thomas' cries against rhythmic motorik pressure and increasingly claustrophobia inducing insistency.

FIZZ - High In Brighton
Hand Habits - Gift Of The Human Curse
dexter in the newsagent - The Way
Sasha Adrian - Dog
Swansea Sound - Keep Your Head On
Minor Conflict - Second-Hand Time

Monday, June 19, 2023

Unglamorous Sampler: Velvet Crisis - Scratch That Itch/Glitch Magnet - Jurassic Party Planning

The story so far: Nineties indie survivor Ruth Miller, who has played our Alldayers twice as leader of Po!, decides to found a fresh outlet for new song urges as she approaches 60, forms classically DIY garage-indie outfit The Verinos but struggles to find women of advancing years in her Leicester locality. So she starts Unglamorous Music, a series of gatherings and how-to open houses for anyone else of her rough demographic with no active musical history who might feel the same way, leading to a whole set of bands forming and trading, in their own ways from sweary punk to noisy art-rock, in rawness and lyrical humour and honesty. The press pick up on it, leading to features in the Guardian, Steph's Packed Lunch, 5 Live Drive and two different German TV channels - not to mention the Verinos basically blowing a hole through this year's Alldayer, so much so they're playing the Sheffield Pop Weekender on August bank holiday Saturday.

Meanwhile, as more bands continue to come together thanks to regular showcases and workshops - five new groups, plus five of the existing classes, are playing a fundraiser at Duffy's Bar in Leicester this Thursday - eight of the original set put songs to tape for the first Unglamorous Sampler, to be released on July 7th on vinyl as well as download.

As a taster of a very consistent and exciting snapshot of a unique scene, here's a couple of cuts from the sampler. Velvet Crisis were part of the inaugural Unglamorous intake back in January 2022; you can absolutely hear the lineage from the Raincoats and early Slits through Talulah Gosh and post-C86 bands, sharing the sense that it could all fall apart at any moment but not while they have enthusiasm and something to say. In their words "Scratch that Itch is about how capitalism encourages greed... it tricks people into believing they can have anything and they should want more. When in reality it’s all about making profit and why lots of people get into terrible debt... but capitalism doesn’t care... just a game for the super rich for the rest poverty’s a bitch."

Glitch Magnet meanwhile are from somewhere vaguely nearby but in a different direction, stalking wiry art-damaged post-punk of a type that suggests ATP attendance pasts, live sets that rarely cross twenty minutes, all disturbed sprechgesang and rough edges left unsanded.

Friday, June 16, 2023

I, Doris - HRT

Formed out of the Loud Women DIY empire, the tabard sporting I, Doris - official membership: Doris, Doris, Doris, Doris, Doris and Doris - play what they term "mummycore riotpop kitchenpunx", playful while cutting feminism-driven lyrical concerns like some kind of indiepop Jenny Eclair routine. Having been at Bearded Theory and being on their way in August to Rebellion and Brighton Pride, their new single's poppy keytar hook and instant hit chorus with handclaps brings the lighter side out of the struggle for accessing gynaecological healthcare; the end of the video features two members being thrown out of a TK Maxx, which is about as good an analogy for the band as you could find.

Muriel - Body Of Light

Monday, June 12, 2023

Your Heart Breaks feat. Kimya Dawson & David Christian - These Old Haunts

Your Heart Breaks, the project of Seattle-based renowned animator Clyde Petersen, has been operating since 1998 with more records than you'll ever get to catch up on - The Wrack Line, out on 7th July, is at least their twelfth album - and a fluid line-up and sense of collaboration that has seen Petersen work with Kelley Deal, Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla, Nirvana's cellist Lori Goldston, K Records country rocker Karl Blau and members of drone greats Earth. Another regular contributor has been Kimya Dawson, who featured on the previous track, college rock rave-up Wesley Crusher, and duets after a fashion here with Comet Gain's cussed sole survivor David Christian - throw in that Katherine Paul, AKA Black Belt Eagle Scout, also contibutes musically and that's one hell of a fever dream combination. The track is a typically literate summery shuffle inspired by touring life travelogues, the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and, er, "the perfect place to take a poo".

Son Lux, Anna B Savage & DM Stith - Pyre (Alarm Bells)
Echo Ladies - Awake
Aderyn - I Wish I Had A Dog
sister - Guts
Celestial North - Otherworld

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Lande Hekt - Pottery Class

Currently trailing The Beths round Europe having been doing likewise in the UK, Hekt is building quite the catalogue of deep introspection negotiating the idea of self-acceptance over two albums and now a new 7", of which this A-side attempts to be upbeat musically but finds her in a slough of isolated despond brought on by an extended period of separation amid the housing crisis.

Saloon Dion - Happiness
cumgirl8 - gothgirl1
Dream Wife - Social Lubrication
John Monroe & Field Music - Driving
Laundromat Chicks - Florida Dream
Sofie Royer - Mio

Monday, June 05, 2023

Grain Mother - 3am

This is technically the Nottingham band's debut single but there's a possibility you came across them when they were the full band of Alice Robbins, whose 2019 EP earned Joni and Daughter comparisons. This new formation has already supported The WAEVE and Trust Fund, and if you're round about Metronome on Wednesday night you could see them supporting Rozi Plain; their strong single a spacious, pristine lament with Americana airs and jazzy inflections, lyrically astute - including a surprising namecheck for a popular home video-based TV show - in its outwardly strong, inward cracked melancholia.

Trust Fund - London
CMAT - Have Fun!
Mt. Yonder - Ones & Zeros
Grian Chatten - Last Time Every Time Forever
The Popguns - Caesar

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Angelo De Augustine - The Ballad Of Betty And Barney Hill

It's probable you'll best know De Augustine from A Beginner's Mind, the film inspired album he made with Sufjan Stevens in 2021. Despite the Californian having made three previous albums of his own it's therefore understandable that you might reach for Sufjan comparisons when discussing the latest track from Toil And Trouble, out 30th June on Asthmatic Kitty, and its hushed dreamstate acoustic storytelling based on historical backwater events and turning bad memories into sweeping, ultimately warm despite the unnerving lushness, decorated around the edges by warped found sounds and multitracked backing harmonies. Notably De Augustine refers to "an ephemeral but nightmarish period of otherworldly sensations and supernatural visions" during recording, which figures.

Forum Friends - Amateur Dentistry
Corvair - Shady Town
Tapir! - On A Grassy Knoll (We'll Bow Together)
Motorbike - Throttle

Thursday, May 25, 2023

CHROMA - Woman To Woman

Two from two in terms of featured tracks from CHROMA's debut album. This, we promise, is not directly connected to the press release calling us grassroots tastemakers - it's been a long time, let us savour it - though it does have to be added that literally all that's been made public about the album at the moment is "there's going to be an album and Alcopop! are releasing it". If you've seen CHROMA live in the last year or so, and if not why not, this is the song they've been ending sets with, a heavy coiled spring of rage at feminist backbiting and the necessity of minority allyship and solidarity which in some ways is a companion to the likewise spectacular first thing we heard from them Girls Talk and similarly allows Katie Hall's not inconsiderable howl to really take off on the thunderbolt chorus. (Hey, is that Mythsntits artwork in the video? Well, yes it is, they're credited, but worth pointing out)

Trips And Falls - It's Not Broken...

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Forum Friends - New Boy

Forum Friends are based in Sheffield, formed via Reddit, supported Fresh recently and that's about the size of what we can find out about them. They've been pigeonholed, not least by themselves, as an emo band and the vocals are heading in that direction but there's much more of the charging, awkward power-pop that puts them much more snugly in the lane of a ME REX or Fortitude Valley. They actually have a third track coming out on Friday but nobody ever said timing was our strong point.

Tonguetied - Losing My Mind
Self-Immolation Music - Kaleidoscope
Melenas - Bang

Monday, May 22, 2023

Meursault - Laugh Track

Oh, they're all coming back now, aren't they. Meursault, the Edinburgh-based heartfelt lamentations of big voiced heart-on-sleeve dweller Neil Pennycook, is preparing a sixth full band album, due on 7th July. It's self-titled, which is ominous, but to go some way towards explaining the blurb describes the album as "a study of his relationship with what Meursault means to him, with each song representing a different stage in the evolution of the project. In short, it’s an album about creative endeavours and how they help shape not only the artists view of the world, but also the worlds view of the artist." As with a few songs on the record Laugh Track is a newly minted version of a song previously briefly available on one of three likewise named EPs in 2020, reworked from those electronic home recorded versions into the musically detailed widescreen folk that complements the uncomfortable introspection of Pennycook's common approach.

Blur - The Narcissist (which is worthy of the actual post but come on, they're Blur, they don't need this blog's help)
Storm Franklin - Hush Now
HMS Morris - House

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Laurence-Anne - Politesse

We'd heard her last single Polymorphe so it wouldn't class as a discovery, but getting to see Laurence-Anne Gagné twice as one of Focus Wales' usual batallion of inventive Canadian visitors was a quiet joy of that wondrous Wrexham (sort-of-)weekend. If you want a one line description, try "Quebecois answer to Gwenno via 2010 Beach House but also Alison Goldfrapp", using varying timbral synths and co-operational effects landing on the gauge off-kilter retro synthpop or haunted textural dreampop. Politesse, from third album Oniromancie due on 8th September, is a dreamscape built from loops and layers, finding a glorious chorus melody never quite letting go into a groove and throwing itself out with parts echoing out and barging in, not least a free jazz sax interjection and an ending that seems to detach itself from the rhythm and float off into space. No more UK dates at the moment, sadly.

ANOHNI and the Johnsons - It Must Change
Mandy, Indiana - Drag (Crashed)
MADMADMAD - Krautjerk
Obongjayar - Just Cool

Thursday, May 11, 2023


Superbly, the first vocal is a delightful "yoo-hoooo!" The rest... is not. If you hadn't already come across the Bristol producer/toaster/MC/rouser from their string of warping sweaty underground club joints you may have done from conquering a succession of sometimes unlikely festivals last summer - Green Man, much as we love it, is not a natural home for dark d'n'b, jungle, UKG and dancehall, especially in a mid-afternoon slot, yet they could do this to/with an End Of The Road crowd with their Nicola-endorsed bashment cover of Sound Of The Underground. In a couple of weeks' time they'll be trying the same trick at Bearded Theory and then later in the summer at Deer Shed; in the meantime their militantly political stance gets a thorough runout on what it has to be said is a slightly late release for an acidly anti-royalist message, the titular boots all the better for stamping and dancing on heads and graves over similarly uncompromising breakbeats, messy breakdowns and generally heavy bass from regular associate EJ​:​AKIN, who is also responsible for bringing things almost back to earth in the last minute with raga-esque counterpoint vocals that in context (and definitely not shared message) are in a similar ballpark to Shahin Badar's Sheila Chandra-inspired vocals at the end of Smack My Bitch Up. Suffice to say, Kelly Jones could never.

yeule - sulky baby
Arlo Parks - Pegasus (officially "ft. Phoebe Bridgers", but just like Lorde ft. Phoebe Bridgers, The National ft. Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift ft. Phoebe Bridgers we only have their word to go on for that)
Kelli Blanchett - Stay (meanwhile this has Kelli's employer Self Esteem on BVs, it's clearly Rebecca's voice and she isn't co-credited. A lesson there.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Muriel - Seaside Painter

We've just spent three excellent, fun, slighly wearying but ultimately rewarding days in Wrexham for our sixth full year at Focus Wales, a kind of Great Escape without the suffering hype, stupid queues or A&Rs but with lots of Welsh and international, largely Canadian in our experience, acts of excellence - hey, you can do so too next year - so we've come home to a new Welsh artist. One, admittedly, that didn't play, because they've only just played their second gig supporting Jeffrey Lewis, although they're already confirmed for Swn, which we're similarly planning to make our annual pilgrimage to. Muriel is the project of one Zak Thomas, whose debut single, it turns out after we'd selected it to feature, honest, features extra production by by Tom Bromley/Campesinos! Signed to Venn Records -unlikely on the surface given it's also been home to Gallows, Bob Vylan and Hi Vis - for an as yet unannounced album, the debut single in its slowly unfolding, pastorally pretty feel recalls the countrified/West Coast influenced introspective explorations and acoustic sharp-to-touch vulnerability of influence Mark Linkous. This is about as subtly impressive a start as can be.

Grimelda ft. Telgate - Freedom
HMS Morris - Family Souls
Laundromat Chicks - Let's Do This
Decisive Pink - Dopamine
Special Friend - Selkie

Friday, May 05, 2023

The Wind-up Birds - Margarine

Leeds' The Wind-up Birds were doing sociopolitical talk-singing over expressive post-punk before you were, and we know that not just over the course of four albums since 2010 but more directly because we've put them on twice, once at the 2014 Leicester Indiepop Alldayer, and again later that year supporting their friends Post War Glamour Girls, whose singer James Smith later formed Yard Act. Indeed the press release for their first single in three years has Smith declaring "Kroyd is light years ahead as a political lyricist in modern music. He changed my life and influenced me so much." From an EP, Pop​.​Thinking, due on 1st July, Margarine is an enervating, angrily poetic organ-driven thrusting two and a half minute blast at Tories, privilege, professional scapegoaters, Making Britain Great Again by proxy, the usual.

Panic Pocket - GET ME
Grian Chatten - Fairlies

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Modern Woman - Achtung

You know sometimes even within the metropolitan centre of everything London there's the odd band who are much more interesting in noise and scope than many of their much more feted peers but because they don't have the same connective tissues as others (and we don't mean that in a Last Dinner Party way) they go under the radar? Modern Woman are a prime example, pulling apart and fiddling around with the edges of post-punk darkness and Sophie Harris' lyrics and delivery having the primal unfiltered poetic urgency of early PJ Harvey. Following the Dogs Fighting In My Dream EP of 2021 and still aligned with End Of The Road Records, the label arm of the exceptional peacock-strewn festival, Achtung is all bass-driven tension and noisy release as Harris streams of consciousness about adolescent observation and innocence, crushing and the undercurrents of levels of violence.

Neev - Will I Change You
Former Champ - Beginner's Luck
The Hannah Barberas - Party From Hell

Friday, April 28, 2023

Private Party - Could've Asked Sooner

It's Focus Wales, the actual most important thing in Wrexham, next week, we're making our now annual visit and one of the highlights as far as we're concerned will be (hopefully) getting to catch Private Party, a prenaturally young quintet from Swansea whose half-dreamy, emotionally conflicted chiming Artifical Feelings EP from last July was one of our favourite discoveries of this year, and not just ours as Welsh radio's finest Adam Walton called them "the sound of the future". Their new single is more direct, as songs that last 2:17 tend to be, but no less involving, harnessing a classy, some might say summery timeless janglepop melody to their own ends. Plus, and let's not overlook this as an attraction, their singer is called Violet Sourbutts.

John Monroe & Field Music - Sleeping On The Floor
LYR - Presidentially Yours

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Broken Records - You Won't Be There

Now, that's a name we haven't heard in a long time. Broken Records burst out of Edinburgh in 2007, a multi-handed folk-pop collective of mini-orchestral chorality and tunnel vision intensity who collected Bright Eyes/Arcade Fire/Beirut press comparisons as if it were a game of modern Americana I-Spy, the excitement getting them signed to 4AD for their first two albums. They inevitably drifted off the radar but they're back, back, back, with a fifth album (first in five years too) later in the year that approaches the grandiosity of The National while keeping itself grounded in that particular Scottish turf of ambitious folk-indie and, having left its raucous past behind it for now, finds itself awake late into the night contemplating, Jamie Sutherland citing an influence from 90s REM (well, maybe not Monster or Up)

Only Fools And Corpses - GREENHOUSE
Single Mothers - Sad Dumb Game
Slate - Tabernacl
Tugboat Captain - Like Caroline

Thursday, April 20, 2023

cumgirl8 - Cicciolina

Yep. There is, of course, a certain knowing artiness to a New York female band with that name, not one you choose just to fit in but also signalling a smuggling of gender, sexual and feminist theory under the guise of boho electro-post-punk, it being entirely unsurprising to find they're playing some summer US dates with the reactivated Le Tigre. After a couple of releases last year they've wormed their way into the 4AD fold with a single that while not the first track to be named after and written in honour of the once much publicised porn star/politician feels like the one closest to her spirit (if not her actual music), grotty disco-punk laced with fucked up synth washes, ESG basslines, threatening stage whispers and CSS-esque gang sign post-electroclash all-out indie disco destroying brio.

Dream Wife - Orbit
bar italia - punkt
The Last Dinner Party - Nothing Matters

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Lambrini Girls - Lads Lads Lads

Brighton's Lambrini Girls are the visceral distorted riff juggernaut you've wanted all along, enough a part of the punk lineage to be opening for Iggy Pop, Blondie, Buzzcocks and Generation Sex (Billy Idol, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Generation X/Sigue Sigue Sputnik's Tony James) at Crystal Palace Park soon but for the dominant part a gleefully undisguised Kathleen Hanna-influenced fearless fury a la M(h)aol, a more sarcasm wielding Dream Nails or, oh go on then, a sociopolitical Amyl & the Sniffers, that by all accounts and 100% believably goes even harder live. Taken from upcoming debut EP You're Welcome, out 19th May on the estimable Big Scary Monsters, the toxic token title is in context very self-explanatory.

Shangri-Lass - Father's Daughter

Monday, April 17, 2023

Snailosaur - Fake Cobblestone Alleys

Snailosaur, a pair of brothers from Brooklyn with this one EP out, clearly owe a debt to Dinosaur Jr in both the vocal approximation of classic J Mascis and the tone of the solos that blazes through parts of the song, but the rest owes more to the kind of unsteady slacker-core that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1993 by way of an acoustic undertow that wrongfoots any attempt to place them as just revivalists.

two white cranes - it's on me
The Dirt - Power Junkie
Minor Conflict - White Ring Binder
Oslo Twins - Breath

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Say She She - Reeling

REPORTS: Disco "doesn't suck". Say She She are a Brooklyn trio styled after a Chic Organisation graduate right down to the band name (c'est chi-chi), all over the classic 70s soul group harmonies and groove without sounding much like a Seventies Night events band. Following last September's debut album Prism comes a song they say was "written as an incantation from Mother Earth to the masses to join the rising against the calamitous forces of unfettered capitalism that has left our seas and skies grappling", their callouts subtly cut with electronics underpinning the funk and more than a hint of Tom Tom Club-adjacent post-disco. They do sound like they'd be a night's entertainment and a half, which for UK readers is unfortunat as they've just finished going round the country, but are due back over at the end of summer for the pure starlight disco dolly exuberances of *checks dates* Green Man, Manchester Psych Fest and End Of The Road.

Dexys - I'm Going To Get Free
Cheekface - Popular 2
Laurence-Anne - Polymorphe

Monday, April 03, 2023

Neev - The House

There's if anything too many intimate singer-songwriters these days but Glasgow-raised Neev feels like she has something a cut above the majority. Taken from debut album Katherine, out on April 28th, The House is a plaintive self-investigation of domesticity, breaking relationships and thwarted dreams coloured by circling strings and her own longing phrasing.

LUNGE - This Idle Motion
Special Friend - Bête
Dragnet - Strike
System Exclusive - Part Time Pierre

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Shangri-Lass - Parallel

By day Rose Love is bass player in Sheffield's bilingual uniformed bewitched dark-folk psychout Sister Wives. Her superbly named solo project, this emotionally taut opening track from an EP Over & Over due 28th April, does indeed borrow something of its self-harmonies and retro-futurism from the girl group sound by way of ye-ye, spacey synths and a good element of her band's tripped out darkness on the edge of the mountains.

The Beths - Watching The Credits
Hand Habits - Something Wrong
Lucinda Chua feat. Yeule - Something Other Than Years
Tugboat Captain - Deep Sea Diving
Memorials - It's In Our Hands
Cable Ties - Time For You
CLT DRP - New Boy
Mera Bhai feat. Maria Uzor - Midnight To Dawn
Your Heart Breaks feat. Kimya Dawson - Wesley Crusher

Friday, March 17, 2023

Trust Fund - animals in war

In 2018 Ellis Jones let it be known that he was putting his all too frank slacker indie outfit of no fixed other membership and of surprise Frank Ocean Apple Music show support Trust Fund to bed. Then, without fuss, he resurrected it last year for capital and late nite skate, two superior cuts of spare, intimate acoustic introspection cut to the bone. This is the third, a plaintive, almost nostalgic examination of interpersonality featuring vocals and extras from Lan and Owen from Ex-Void (and Joanna Gruesome back in time, and O. is also in several hundred other bands) and what sounds like a shot at a Spanish guitar solo towards the end. There's a whole load of upcoming dates as well, starting tonight at Dulwich Hamlet FC.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Death & Vanilla - Out For Magic

Malmo trio Death & Vanilla first crossed our path with 2015 debut album To Where The Wild Things Are, which cracked our end of year top 20 albums. They've been on and off since if we're honest but their central tenet of maintaining the retro-modernist-futurist bent that encompasses radiophonic, dreampop, ye-ye, motorik and all that kind of thing has been their core throughout and comes to the fore on the last single before sixth album Flicker, taking Stereolab's space age bachelor pad by strategy.

JGrrey ft. Kojey Radical - May
Furrowed Brow - Jill
Temps - partygatorresurrection (feat. Open Mike Eagle, me oh myriorama, Montaigne, Low Growl, bb tombo)

Friday, March 10, 2023

Panic Pocket - Mad Half Hour

It's been a while since we've heard from Sophie Peacock and Natalie Healey, the London duo whose acerbically cathartic lo-fi harmonic synthy pop gave them cult attention (including a place in our 2019 Half-Dayer that we've since retconned into an Alldayer to make this year's tenth day celebrations work out) That while is in fact three years since their sole EP, until now where they've signed to, appropriately, Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey's Skep Wax label for an album released on 26th May of the same title (and they're supporting at May's Heavenly reunion dates) The advance single comes with the most instantaneous of melodies, the most anthemic of choruses and a lyric about glamour nostalgia, a moment of fun as authentic self-care and, oh yeah, appears to be sung from the perspective of Geri Horner.

Baxter Dury - Aylesbury Boy
Media Giant - Man Bites Dog
Problem Patterns - Who Do We Not Save?
Bar Italia - Nurse!
7ebra - Lighter Better

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Alice Low - Fruitcake

Another of those acts we love but might have slipped through the net during that period we just weren't writing about stuff, Cardiff-based Low set out her stall in every single conceivable way with shapeshifting fourteen minute 2021 debut single Ladydaddy, followed it with a trio of pointedly hypersexualised electropop tracks, then compressed it into pop song length with theatrical late 2022 single of blowing expectations Show Business, and in between developed a live presence peaking with an extraordinary set last Green Man. Taken from debut EP proper Transatlantic Sugar, out April 21st, the new one continues in her avant lane of identity reckoning glam extravagance pushing with all its might against its surroundings. There's bits in evidence of Sparks, Prince, Thin White Duke pre-plastic soul Bowie, Todd Rundgren, Don't Stand Me Down Dexys, within an insistent all too unvarnished confessional slow burn that doesn't see why it shouldn't throw in a coruscatingly widdly guitar solo. The Low experience can soon be seen supporting a couple of H Hawkline's dates and then The Great Escape.

The Family Battenberg - Feed Yer (Nganga)

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Show Dogs - Don't Go In The Water

Cardiff's Show Dogs could qualify as a supergroup if you'd ever heard of any of the bands they were previously in, so there's that. What you should know is they emerged late last year with an EP of wryly point-making slacker power-pop and now they've got a second, Y Rhwd Gwelw, out on the 17th, from which comes a pointedly Beach Boys-referencing piece of sunshine pop being covered by a dark cloud, being as it's about water pollution at the mouth of the Severn.

Foyer Red - Plumbers Unite!
James Ellis Ford - I Never Wanted Anything
Jeremy Tuplin - Dancing On Your Own

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Nuha Ruby Ra - 6 In The Morning

Between festivals, a string of great singles and supporting on Yard Act's first big tour it's very possible you'll have come across Nuha Ruby Ra in the last couple of years, or might be about to as she's about to play some dates with Self Esteem. Often you can't miss her for her intimidating, provocative live persona involving no visible backing, two microphones and more than likely an enormous hat. The music makes its mark too, dirty gothic industrial increasing in intensity with its insistent bad trip thump of a pulse and a and the kind of withering sprechgesang (yeah, again, but seriously) clarity amid social dropouts and arseholes that can most clearly be found at the titular time of the morning. EP Machine Like Me is out on the 17th on Brace Yourself Records, the label that put out Baby Shack so are already actual godheads.

CHROMA - Don't Mind Me

Have we talked about CHROMA much on here? We've mentioned them and previous singles by name and title, certainly, but by now we've seen them five or six times without any of those being outside Wales, a fate that still befalls any bilingual Welsh band. Signing to Alcopop! with a debut album on the horizon should sort that out as more people experience their live power and more generally the Pontypridd trio's Gossip-by-way-of-DFA1979 pummelling riffage led by a lyrically honest and open firestorm up front in Katie Hall. They're off to SXSW in a couple of weeks with a fundraising gig in Cardiff on Saturday and a GoFundMe for everyone who can't make it there.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Dancer - Arch Nemesis

A conflagration of members from Glasgow bands Current Affairs, Nightshift, Order of the Toad and Robert Sotelo, yes, it's yet more of that talk-singing (though more of the latter than with most) over acute post-punk stuff you've come to know and love in the last few years. It does however feel that unlike the majority of bands who've emerged doing similar in the last year these have actually drawn inspiration from the source, uncoiling without freneticism in the manner of - yes, here it comes - Life Without Buildings (their label refers to them as "inspired by LWB", so fair enough) via the Raincoats, with less of the impressionistic vocalising and more introspection and awkward bass-led groove. Plus their self-titled EP has a song entitled Chris Whitty's Inner World.

Monday, February 13, 2023

So where were we?

Yes, for the third time this year we're trying a new approach, AKA come crawling back to the one successful outlet we ever had. Twitter is an algorithmic cesspool where everything new gets lost unless you work a lot harder than these posts necessitate, Substack was a decent idea to us but evidently very few others, so for permanence it turns out we're back at the blog. From now on instead of grouping several together so the nuances get lost we're going to go back to what we did years and years ago and much better and more committed music bloggers still do perfectly well, namely posting single tracks as and when we hear something that we think you should too. Except for this first one, which is just to clear the decks of everything up to this point - bearing in mind on said newsletter this year we've already covered these tracks and these tracks.

Lambrini Girls - White Van

Maybe there is something to this whole party-like-it's-1997-at-the-Highbury-Garage/Camden-Palace glitter scene semi-revival/DIY femmepunk thing we've been plugging away at over the last year or so. The Brighton trio whose You're Welcome EP is out on 19th May and are supporting scene-in-our-own-heads leaders Panic Shack's London date tomorrow (as we post this) are actively explosive, a mildly satirical and very much visceral blast of punkish fury a la Dream Nails on the wolf whistling passing male gaze in particular and whose actual responsibility for such behaviour it is generally.

Private Party - Pink Daydream

From Cardiff Gets Splattered, a R*E*P*E*A*T Records 7" out this Friday also including tracks from Helen Love, The Mudd Club and Femmebug, some hazy emotionally contradicted chiming by some teenagers from Llanelli who it turns out released a more than promising EP, Artificial Feelings, last July. Also their singer is called Violet Sourbutts, which is a magnificent name.

Sluice - Centurion

North Carolinan Justin Morris has something of the Yo La Tengo about this from his forthcoming second album as a deceptively simple, almost folky rhythmic song by way of Bill Callahan is slowly overtaken at intervals by feedback as Morris' writing starts breaking up and then turns into an art-rock semi-freakout.

Thandii - Give Me A Smile

The second track in this selection to deal with unwanted street catcalling but one that goes about it in a very different way, as you'd expect from a duo from hip Margate who've actually been around since 2017 but are only on March 31st getting around to an album, comprising a jazz vocalist and Inflo's percussionist of choice (Simz, Kiwanuka, Sault) The latter is a big touchstone here, the kind of slightly left of centre psychedelic soul touching on unsteady trip-hop that fits snugly into retro-futurism.

Drahla - Lip Sync

We'd assumed the Leeds trio had gone the way of all flesh over the pandemic given their silence on all fronts since 2019's Useless Coordinates album but nope, they're back and developing their art-noise into industrial electronic percussion, burrowing bass, switches from noise to minimalism, crazed sax in the background and Luciel Brown generally daring you to turn away.

Dream Wife - Hot (Don't Date A Musician)

Sardonic? Noisy? We're about back where we started. This might even rival FUU as their best song, and who'd have thought that would ever happen.