Review: Hot Chip are back! The coolest dudes since Devo return like a monkey with a miniature cymbal with their seventh full length album. With vocoding effects layered over the sweet tone of Alexis Taylor's voice referencing all matter of contemporary and retro-active pop and trance sensibilities, this album once again sees Hot Chip at the front of pioneering, friendly and avant garde pop music. Produced by the late Philippe Zdar (one half of Cassius) - also responsible for applying award winning touches to albums by Phoenix and Cat Power, Domino is calling the record "a celebration of joy but recognises the struggle it can take to get to that point of happiness". Our tips: album opener "Melody Of Love" and the '80s trance-pop that is "Hungry Child".
Review: "Father Of The Bride", Vampire Weekend's first album for six long years, has been receiving praise across the board from critics. It's been variously described as a "modern California pop masterpiece", a "scrapbook of brilliant ideas" and "the band's magnum opus". To our ears, it's certainly joyous and celebratory, with the acclaimed New York band wrapping their usual punchy-indie pop in subtle and not so subtle nods towards everything from Flamenco and Country music, to mournful piano ballads, excitable electronic indie-dance and 1960s baroque pop. In other words, it's a giddy collection of inventive, enjoyable songs that boasts the same eclectic, anything-goes swagger as the Beatles "White Album" or other similar wide-ranging sets.
Review: Infamous Libertines and Babyshambles frontman Peter Doherty returns with his latest project, Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres, formed by members of Doherty's touring band from his 2016 "Eudaimonia" tour. He brings with him, of note, Jack Jones - also a member of Trampolene - who shares vocal duties and guitar collaboration with Doherty on the record. Expect a ragged, not entirely inharmonious, array of spangled guitars, boot-skootin' fiddles, broken down jazz and deconstructed mega blues. A good one for those smokey nights of Laphroaig when lamenting the ups & downs of one's life and times, all spent in an irreverent tone of UK punk and blues, or as the band call it: an intimate portrait of love, loss, being lost, happiness, tragedy, addiction and the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels
Review: Thirteen studio albums in, and 'Colors' sees Beck maybe at his most playful and upbeat since the late '90s. Title track 'Colors' opens the albums with an immediacy that bursts out like a heavily polished 'Devil's Haircut'. The album veers off in all kinds of pop directions, from the anthemic 'Seventh Heaven', to the almost trap-like 'Wow', Beck shows he's willing to experiment and wrangle as much as possible into an album. It might not be his most contemplative record, but it's definitely his glossiest and most entertaining in a while, and promises a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
Review: We're now over thirty years on from the era in which the Reid brothers were a headline and riot creating hype machine, yet if 'Damage And Joy' proves one anything, it's that the strange cocktail of insouciance and nihilism with which they made their reputation is an evergreen thing. This collection of surprisingly upbeat garage-rockers and languid ballads is carved in the same alluring classicist shapes that the brothers have made their trademark, yet the band - aided and abetted by collaborators like Sky Ferreira and Isobel Campbell - sound alarmingly vivacious for ones who've made their name through narcotic cool, whilst these songs bear an indelible imprint of melodic charm and three-chord rawness.
Review: It's business time. Alongside Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Simpsons, references or refrain for New Zealand comedy act Flight of the Conchords are never far off. And with the pair garnering even more notoriety with their cameo songwriting appearing in shows like Rick and Morty, it's no surprise to hear they've delivered a special. Recorded live in London, and released in deluxe triple vinyl form via legendary Seattle label Sub Pop, if you can survive the raucous laughter between the punchlines across the night's setlist than you'll appreciate classics like "Inner City Pressure", "Mutha'uckas - Hurt Feelings" and "Bowie" that much more, and with live adlib commentary between the scenes too, "The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)" curtails this mega release with a most classic closer and encore! Happy Birthday.
Review: Joseph Donald Mascis, well known front man of Dinosaur Jr., provides a third solo instalment for Sub Pop in what you could call a trilogy of LPs for the Seattle label. It follows Tied To A Star (2014) and Several Shades Of Why (2011), and other than keys and occasional guest vocals, this record is proudly his own show. Still wistful and Americana at its finest, the warmth in Mascis vocal are a highlight on this LP and they come through bright yet forlorn on album opener "See You At The Movies", and sombrely so on "Web So Dense" too. And by the time you make your way to "Everything She Said" you may just feel like you've listened to new age Pearl Jam session without the dangerous amounts of whiskey.
Review: You pretty much know what to expect from Tacocat at this point - no nonsense indie-punk stylings and humorous, direct lyrical narratives, as well as their uplifting take on post punk, with clear inspiration from bands such as The Pretenders and Blondie. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the new wave, synth-driven stylings of album highlight "Grains Of Salt", the power pop of "The Joke Of Life" and "Rose-Colored Sky", concluding with some respite in "Miles & Miles". The socially conscious lyrics in places will no doubt provide some optimism, too. This Mess Is A Place is a triumphant album that will provide sing-a-longs and fun in great helpings.
Review: When it comes to music, the coming together of Sub Pop and Mudhoney's first release in five years doesn't get anymore Seattle than this. Earlier this year the legendary west coast band released the live album LiE, proving their roots are still firmly grounded in causing a racket, while the lyrical sense written into tracks on this album still brandish the band's light sense of dark humour. At first glance, Digital Garbage comes across as a record that takes a deal of its angst out on the clergy, with tracks like "Please Mr Gunman" intoning: 'please don't be an inconsiderate prick, we'd rather die in church" to "21st Century Pharisees" wailing lyrics: "sanctimonious pieces of shit." Mudhoney as always, still keeping it bitter, still keeping it sweet.
Review: Ty Segall, one of the leading lights and most hard-working artists of America's west coast garage scene, perfectly balances quality and quantity with 'Freedom's Goblin', his tenth studio album under his own name (include his live records, aliases and collaborations, and the total body of work effectively doubles). Having seemingly ditched the songwriting rules he had set himself on previous albums, 'Freedom's Goblin' sees Ty Segall at his most explosive and full-throttle, inventively exploring the many avenues of sub-genres of rock and psychedelia. Consisting of 19 ironclad songs that clock in at nearly eighty minutes, this is an expansive and exhilarating album that never becomes tiring. The wild combination of flawless production (co-engineered by the legendary Nirvana producer Steve Albini) and Segall's balance of raw power and melodic sensibility, makes 'Freedom's Goblin' another astoundingly high-calibre addition to an already colossal catalogue.
Review: To be a fan of Ty Segall must be a rewarding thing as the Californian singer-songwriter can deliver at the very least one album per annum. This does nothing to diminish the quality of his much loved and trusted music and this time around, with the help of his backing group the Freedom Band, he delivers a live album recorded at Los Angeles' Teragram Ballroom. Mixed by American legend Steve Albini, this album even comes with a rendition of a Segall track commissioned by Comedy Central, and though "Deforming Lobes" may be on a slightly different tip from Segall's cover album "Fudge Sandwich" - and the four albums he released in 2018 - there's no denying the raw take of a wild, uncensored performance.
Review: It would seem for all the world like Ty Segall is locked in some deathless conflict with Thee Oh Sees man John Swyer to see who can be the most prolific garage rock genius of the here and now, with this self-titled effort - a record as awash with his trademark blend of jam-kicking cheer and stylish chutzpah as ever - the latest case for this cause. But with his band The Muggers taking a more prominent role here, 'Ty Segall' is not just that same old fabulous thing - sure, there are three minutes punk gems, cocky T-Rex ramalama and head-spinning psych-pop, yet one song here hits a mighty ten minutes, hinting that there may be evolutionary pathways open to this modern-day marvel even beyond his ability to rock out like no-one else on earth.
Review: Before we get to his solo career credentials, it's a good thing to know something of Kevin Morby's background first. The American singer-songwriter has counted himself as the bassist in the Brooklyn outfit Woods and was frontman of The Babies before that. This cassette release of Oh My God delivers Morby a fifth solo studio album since his Harlem River debut in 2013 and the versatility of his styles and inspirations seem to be hitting a new high, given the sometimes bluesy substance of his lyrics. Often where Morby's voice hits a sweet spot, subtle humming attenuations caress his deeper notations, all coated in a slight smokey haze similar to Bob Dylan (of now) and the late Leonard Cohen. Throw this into a mix of light distortion, piano ballads and theatrical big band techniques, it's in Kevin Morby we trust.
Review: Listening to the awaited full length of The National's Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon's (Bon Iver) Big Red Machine project and it's hard not to think they've invested themselves in discovering deeper strands of electronic music, or production... if the sporadic drum machine work of "Deep Green" is anything to go by. "I Won't Run From It" however sees the pair back in their full choral beauty, presenting a song for thousands to potentially wave their hands this summer. This Big Red Machine was produced over the past two years involving many-a collaboration from New York and its artistic community, with the band themself saying: "this feels like something new-the process felt different and the outcome felt different." Check it.
Review: Sporting something of an appearance that looks like it could have come out of Harmony Korine's Gummo, Cherry Glazerr reappear once again on their homely label Secretly Canadian. There's a mass of pop culture appeal to band, and considering they surfaced early on [Adult Swim] it's no surprise maybe to see everything from mid-western emo to punk motifs alongside more cosmo R&B beats. It's an album that wears its hair up or down, experiencing softer and more introverted moments to thrash guitars and punk stances. With angst and distortion never far from earshot, the album's flex is acoustic and electronic with the imaginations of talented kids dosed up on MTV Americana coming to the fore.