Review: With so much at stake when seminal outfits decide to get back together it's understandable people usually greet the news of reunification with a degree of skepticism. But if RIDE's first epilogue didn't confirm it, their second post-comeback album should; sometimes a return is exactly what we needed. Tracks like "Future Love", "Jump Jet" and "Fifteen Minutes" stand up as excellent in their own right. At its most adventurous and confident, "This Is Not A Safe Place" is a startling work of extraordinary daring. RIDE sound as powerful and room-filling as it does hypnotic. "Repetition" vacuum packs a party in sharp, staccato goodness, "Kill Switch" takes us into dark, edgy territories, high pitched chord refrains and crashing cymbals creating an air of menace. So, if we didn't say it already, welcome back.
Review: Upbeat, upfront and wholeheartedly unapologetic, the return of Friendly Fires is about as proud as an album can be. After eight years off whatever soul searching took place has clearly paid off, even if only to give them the confidence to make these tracks. There's a pure 80s chart-disco vibe throughout the track list. From the breathiness of that "Baby I" line on "Can't Wait Forever" to the sexy and sleazy "Offline", which might as well be an homage to George Michael. It's no cheap parody, though, with enough accomplished musicality here to ensure that an instrumental pack would have club DJs with penchants for yacht pop chomping at the bit. Not least the frantic pace and punching kicks of "Almost Midnight", synth accents taking us closer to the outfit's debut than anything else here, perhaps with the exception of closer "Run The Wild Flowers".
Review: The weight of expectation has been lifted. Having turned heads in the right places with breakout track "More Is Less", Dublin's The Murder Capital fulfil the promise of being Ireland's next great guitar hope by delivering a staggering debut album that's powerful yet subtle, uplifting and outward looking yet dark and introverted. No walking contradiction, it's an accomplished and entirely human record. It also sounds as tight as you could ask for. Produced by none other than Flood, whose credits are good enough to drop any jaw (PJ Harvey, Foals, New Order), for evidence just stop to consider the top end hooks and percussive detail on single "Green & Blue", invoking Liars in pared-back post punk mode. Or the tense, unnerving introduction to opener "For Everything". By the time you hit "Don't Cling To Life", arguably the most emotionally charged and reflective here, hopes of walking away unmoved are done for.
Review: Socio-political commentary abounds Sleater-Kinney's latest. The title references Yeats' "The Second Coming", and while the catalyst for this call for help isn't clear we are so desperately lost as a civilisation, bound by the chains of what Adam Curtis calls oh dear-ism, the specific sickness is irrelevant. Our symptoms are universal. This is clearest on "Can I Go On". In contrast to the aforementioned, with its furious guitars and anguished vocals, it's a poppier, almost-80s affair. Yet it discusses exhausted, wired-in people, questioning if we are worth saving. Perhaps "Love" will help? A jerking, proto-electro infused effort that charts (presumably) the band's early years touring in a van. When things made sense. But nostalgia isn't salvation, especially when the distorted vocals and scuzzy riffs of "Bad Dance" tell us to get down before it's all over. Hope lost in a deliciously textured, provocative record.
Review: It's taken a while, but finally Thom Yorke's impressive third solo album, "ANIMA", is available on wax (and in a fetching shade of orange, too). A future classic that continues the legacy he started with XL Recordings back in 2006 (with his solo debut The Eraser), ANIMA is well worth picking up, as Yorke and co-producer Nigel Godrich offer up evocative, off-kilter songs built around the twin attractions of the Radiohead man's distinctive vocals and skewed backing tracks rich in layered electronic noise, body-bending sub-bass, discordant synthesizer parts and intriguingly jaunty drum loops. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the creepy, lo-fi ambient swirl of "Last I Heard (...He Was Circling the Drain)" and "Dawn Chorus" (a blissfully dewy-eyed early morning soundscape), to the low-slung, post-trip-hop hum of "I Am A Very Rude Person" and the fizzing, jazz-fired thrust of "Impossible Knots". Melancholic, yes. Deep and self-effacing, of course. Nihilistic, not really. Percussive futurist sub-pop is back.
Review: The best thing since the Klaxons or Bloc Party have arrived. black midi! The student art rock band are bringing a new youthful energy and slight of malice back to the arena of post-indie inspired alternative guitar and synth music. They make this overtly known from the start with the supercharged opener that is "953", introducing an album that is said to have laid down eight of the record's nine tracks in just five days. Drums are fast and skittering, rhythms are dancey and guitars keep it Madchester jangley. "Speedway" (is that a wry Prodigy reference?) is among the album's highlights alongside the punk-funky "bmbmbm" and the short but trippy "Years Ago". With a 100 per cent backing by UK music institution Rough Trade: meet this generation's newest sensation.
After Upheavil (Richard H Kirk remix - Adi Newton Radical version)
Zulu (Richard H Kirk remix - Adi Newton dub version)
Review: Following the original dissolution of legendary Sheffield industrial funk outfit Clock DVA in 1984, founder member Adi Newton struck out on his own with The Anti-Group: an experimental project in which he could explore a variety of sonic worlds with the aid of a revolving cast of likeminded Steel City stalwarts (Richard H Kirk, Stephen Mallinder, Martyn Ware and Warp co-founder Robert Gordon included). "4x12" is a retrospective of sorts, gathering together tracks from three 12" singles ("Ha-Zulu", "Big Sex", "Broadcast Test") and one mini-album ("ShT"). Musically, it veers from collage style sample patchworks and dark ambient soundscapes to rubbery industrial funk, twisted post synth-pop, EBM-influenced workouts and madcap experimental escapades.
Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (extended remix)
The More You Live The More You Love (extended remix)
Nightmares (extended remix)
DNA (extended remix)
Electrics (extended remix)
Man Made (extended remix)
Tranfer Affection (extended remix)
Review: This year, the original A Flock Of Seagulls line up is touring together for the first time since 1984. To celebrate, they've decided to put out this collection of "Extended Essentials" - club-ready 12" versions of their original 1980s hits. There's naturally plenty to enjoy throughout, from the hazy shuffle of "Transfer Affection" and the alien freakiness of "Space Age Love Song" (a cut smothered in eyes-closed guitar solos that changes tempo midway through), to the surprisingly cheery hustle of "Nightmare" and the classic new wave creepiness of early single "Modern Love is Automatic". These aren't 12" mixes that showcase 1980s production trickery, but rather tasteful extensions that ratchet up the atmosphere and thrusting grooves.
Review: Shoegaze dream pop duo Molly - out of Innsbruck, Austria - deliver an alpine coloured CD to compliment the elemental themes of their debut album. It follows two previous singles in 2016-17, respectively, suggesting that last year was spent entirely in the studio. As it turns out their studio sits atop their native alps and laced throughout this LP are field recordings of their chosen summit which only offers more space to an already expansive, glacial and epic sound. With the 15-minute album opener "Coming Of Age" a mountain of production in itself, Molly right now are hitting their peak.
Review: It's certainly not going to surprise any newcomers to Purple Pilgrims that this duo hail from the enchanted landscapes of New Zealand. A timeless sound pervades the work on their sophomore long form effort, befitting a corner of the world that's just far enough from the relentless hype machine of the music industry to allow for genuine individuality to shine through. At times tracks invoke images of endless, unspoilt landscapes where sirens lure us into painfully beautiful sonic worlds. Opener "How Long Is Too Long" is a case in point, along with the pained beauty of "Delphiniums In Harmony/Two Worlds Away" and "Ruinous Splendour". This Mortal Coil eat your heart out. In other moments, what's here gives more than a soft nod to the heyday of hypnotic, opiate rock 'n' roll; "Sensing Me" and "I'm Not Saying" were surely born in a time when free love really was free.
Review: Since debuting as Grouper back in 2005, Liz Harris has delivered a swathe of experimentalist albums that explore almost every aspect of ambient and drone music. Here she launches a new project, Nivhek, via an expansive double-album of sparse, atmospheric compositions that tend towards the epic. Really, it's two albums in one. The first slab of wax is entitled "After Its Own Death" and boasts a two-part, non-stop suite of tracks built around echoing choral vocals, dark electronics and blissful bells. It's alternately melancholic, blissful and grippingly intense. In contrast, "Walking In A Spiral Towards The House", the piece stretched across both sides of the second record, is breathtakingly beautiful - a meandering, soft focus trip through chiming, reverb-laden motifs and gentle music box melodies.
Review: From humble beginnings for Parisian label Kitsune back in 2010, the sub-pop of Two Door Cinema Club has reached great heights thanks to their albums Beacon, Gameshow and most of all, their debut, Tourist History. Now with False Alarm, Alex Trimble's vocals continue to collide in sweet harmony with the band's contemporary arrangement of synths, acoustic drums and undertones of tropical instrumentation - bear in mind that TDCC never stray too far from the poppy realms of disco either. Highlights include the radical '80s charm of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" (think Sting or Hall & Oates) to "Satellite" and the oddly, stylisticly French ballad that is "Break". Good times roll!
Review: The third album from Marika Hackman, and arguably her most honest and exposed to date. An artist who has tangibly progressed from what was already a head start, it's a complex record that seems to be the sum of the artist's previous parts. A proud and forthright declaration of someone arriving at where they want to be wouldn't be putting it too far. It's scuzzy, desolate, bleak and then at the same time energetic, poised, guttural, disco. Tracks such as "Send My Love" couldn't be more emotionally charged, but nor could they be more inviting- somewhere between this life and the next- inviting and then visceral. Flip it and find "Conventional Ride" and "Come Undone" as two tracks that are entirely different but share one thing in common; a heartbreaking work of extraordinary genius.
Review: Minneapolis trio and Domino Records project Night Moves delivers their third album, going some length to perfect a brand of poppy psychedelia. Since debuting in 2012 with the Colored Emotions, the band have honed their craft and created a version of what sophisticated, emotional modern pop music can be. And as we enter the summer of 2019, the band's chosen atmosphere oozes with a new sweetness and sound evocative of holidays past that still carry with the sentimentality of cherished memories. Highlights include the breeziness of "Recollections" and the classic disco meets Bee Gees-styled funk of "Waiting For The Symphony".
Review: The Soft Cavalry have arrived, a new project of husband & wife duo Steve Clarke and Rachel Goswell. Their debut, self-titled album has been described as falling somewhere between Pink Floyd, Talk Talk and R.E.M. To put it another way; slow motion stoner surf rock meets subtle shades of folk and washed-out Shoegaze. Dancier and straight-laced drums primed with disco energy also find their way into tracks like "Bulletproof". The album finds its unique space in seemingly being able to create a new study into cosmic folkology; perfectly weighted with atmospheres that drift across and through the album's many dimensions.
Review: After years of what has seemingly been live record after live record - (not to mention their debut Broken Boy Soldiers album haunting our Juno offices for nearly a decade) Jack White's inspired troupe are back with a bang - exploding with Help Us Stranger. Think the amplified epicness of The Who. The album twists and turns through telephone amplified blues ("Help Me Stranger"), the dandy piano ballads in "Shine The Light On Me" to the rolling, western, country drums of "Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)". Regardless of the tracks, this album teems with an energy that rock music has not felt for some time and there's no denying the future classic that this will become. Rock on The Raconteurs!
Review: Taking inspiration from the sonic lawlessness of the city they live, New York's B Boys deliver a third studio album for Brooklyn indie Captured Tracks. Described as exploring solitude and self-reflection through sharp, high-energy shouts and melodic mediations, Dudu keeps their post punk sound of lo-fi drums, jangley, distorted guitars and quick fire rhythms fresh! The music of B Boys shares a close proximity to what was coming out of the UK scene during the 2000s with "Closer", "Instant Pace" and "Another Anthem" really saddling up to this aesthetic, which should bring some nice memories to fans of bands like King Krule, The Rakes or even At The Drive In.