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