Review: Five years on from their last full-length excursion, Darkstar return with "Civic Jams", a socio-politically charged set that Warp says was influenced by two decidedly disparate musical inspirations: the opaque, slowly shfiting sonic density pf shoegaze, and 30 years of the British bass music continuum. In practice, that means a striking fusion of tactile vocals, drowsy electronics, wall-of-sound chords and crunchy, off-kilter rhythms that tip a wink to hip-hop, grime, dubstep, breakbeat and more, while never sounding specifically like any of them. It's not a club-focused set, but it an undeniably impactful one, primarily because its inherent bittersweet beauty and weary melancholia seems in tune with these unusual, claustrophobic times.
Review: Despite a number of significant personnel changes since the release of their previous album (the departure of founder member Chris Walla being the biggest), Death Cab For Cutie still seems to be in rude health. Now two decades into their ongoing career, the American band is still capable of producing glistening indie-pop brilliance, heart-aching torch songs and anthem-like festival sing-alongs. There's plenty of goodness to be found, then, on ninth studio album Thank You For Today, a set bristling with classic Death Cab For Cutie moments - not least the tactile bliss of "When We Drive", boisterous "Gold Rush" and chiming "You Moved Away".
Damaged Eyes Squinting Into The Beautiful Overhot Sun
I Call On Thee
Review: Experimental rock deities Deerfhoof ensure something will survive with their latest, adding gems to an already-bejewelled crown by way of innovation and chaos, not to mention doe-eyed beauty if you listen hard enough. A testament to the power of paring back, and the band's ability to follow their deeply textured and melodic 'Mountain Moves' album with something completely different, its among their best work to date. At least part of the aesthetic comes down to recording process - in this case the use of a built in laptop mic. Its limitations afford a distorted quality to the more intense tracks, not least those Commander-in-Chief riffs of 'Ye Saddle Babes', and the mangled drum rolls on 'Sympathy For The Baby Boo'. A trippy, rhythm-heavy and rough and ready guitar triumph.
Review: The preaching sirens of Deerhunter return, long has everyone been waiting, since the band's Fading Frontier LP of 2015. The group have moved on from the pinky-pop nostalgia they've described as their last album, and moved into and towards a darker and more intensifying feel. The Atlanta group's eighth full-length in total finds itself tripping out on klaviers and chant-like numbers as heard in "Element" and the rickety jingle of album opener "Death In Midsummer". While there's some crooked-eye positivity to be found in the James Dean referencing "Plains", the masterwork of the band's ambient and cinematic scope remains as strong as ever, and alongside Bradford Cox's undeniable haunt, vocal contributions and extra (subtle) hints of subversive nihilism come from Cate Le Bon and White Fence's Tim Presley.
Review: Psychedelic serenades worthy of our attention can be tricky to track down in the here and now, yet it takes little time to work out that the work of Morgan Delt, a bedroom auteur with as much warped songcraft to offer as excursions into the wilderness. 'Phase Zero' maps out an interstellar constellation between the '60s world of The Byrds, the '70s bedlam of Jean-Pierre Massiera and the contemporary slant of recent Flaming Lips, yet at all times it boasts a widescreen sweep and wide-eyed wonderment to match its sonic playfulness and melodic sleight-of-hand, resulting in a gem for the third-eye and both ears alike.
Review: A follow up to 2017's This Old Dog, everyone's favourite slacker-rock singer songwriter is back with Here Comes The Cowboy. Mixed at DeMarco's Jizz Jazz Studios in Los Angeles, the Canadian musician delivers a swooning and laidback take on folk western blues built on acoustic guitars and the odd sombre horn. The album opens with an unmistakeable vocal drawl, before we're met with DeMarco's trademark slow-tempo groove complete with eerie synths as the album progresses. While it contains many signature traits of a Mac DeMarco record, we're loving the new 1970s and blues rock influences best heard on "Choo Choo" and the second half of closer "Baby Bye Bye". It's easy to imagine DeMarco strumming these numbers in his rocking chair on a porch during sundown in the deep west, all sung while chewing on a single straw of wheat. All in all, Here Comes The Cowboy feels like a solid evolution for the cult hero.
Review: If you're unfamiliar with what the Desert Sessions are, or were, then a little back story probably won't go amiss. It's 1997 and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) debunks to the remote desert enclave of Joshua Tree, California. He takes a handful of friends with him, and this being music that handful of friends are all suitably talented and - in many cases - pretty renowned. The results have been enshrined in the pantheons of music folklore, recorded and gradually released in sequential volumes. Here we have "Vol. 11 & 12" then, which features a host of notable characters. From Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears to ZZ Top man Billy Gibbons and Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa. Spanning the gamut from the cartoonish nod to Tom Tom Club or B52s ("Chic Tweetz") to the head-nodding, scuzzy rock 'n' roll goodness of "Noses In Roses, Forever", it's exploratory, beguiling and very much worthy of your time.