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: Tumbling drums and guitars to invoke that classic Madchester feeling are a shining sensation in this Irish band's limited one-sided 12". Something of an extravagant release, The Murder Capital have rightly stood behind a moody number of post-punk charm that deserves its own piece of 12" real estate. "Green & Blue" is The Murder Capital's second single and it's a sound that falls somewhere between the post-punk of The Happy Mondays and Joy Division, and the more contemporarily strands of Oxford band Foals. Atmospheric, moody post-punk with soul.
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.
Review: The last ten years have seen no shortage of bands with their delay pedals set to stun intent on capturing an aura of dreamlike radiance. Yet Texas 'pop-noir' troupe Cigarettes After Sex are no ordinary shoegazers, for a variety of reasons - frontman Greg Gonzalez' androgynous and dulcet tones may be part of the appeal, yet moreover it's the quality of the songwriting here, which never falls prey to the style-over-substance traps of their peers. Indeed, this debut is more than enough to justify the considerable hype around this outfit, being a collection of ditties as sultry as they are atmopsheric.
Review: Dublin's Fontaines D.C. have been itching for their debut album to arrive on Partisan Records for seven singles now (all of which released in the past 18 months). Full of semi-ironic lyrics delivered like a drunk Mike Skinner replacing Archy Marshall (King Krule), each track on the album delivers a jangley, dimly light, beer swindling vibe, though not all songs are for bar fights and moshing. Flashes of Bloc Party to Morrissey subtly streak across the album (see "Television Screens") while there's some sombre punk, funk ballads in "Roy's Tune" to be heard too. The album overall is electric, highly danceable, cooler than a denim jacket, and a quality first missive.
Review: Slingin' slangin guitars, skittering drums and synths from BRIT School graduates Black Midi deliver a sound that's semi-ironic with all matter of punk leanings. With references abound to New York's heyday of experimental new wave and art rock, this two-track 12" for Rough Trade sees the four-piece edge that bit closer to their anticipated debut album called Schlagenheim. Due for a release this June, most of Schlagenheim was said to have been laid down in five days with producer Dan Carey (Bat for Lashes, Bloc Party) and these two tracks go to some length in introducing the band's raw talent, their meteoric rise and vision of a gone but not forgotten CBGBs.
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: 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: Following the runaway success of their Mercury Music Prize nominated 2014 debut album, Jungle moved to Los Angeles to record the follow-up. It didn't work out for a variety of musical and personal reasons, so they headed back to London and recorded "For Ever" instead. While some of the lyrics reflect on their musical and personal issues during that time, the resultant songs are as soulful, polished and jaunty as you'd expect. Check, for example, the sun-kissed disco-pop of "Heavy California", the sumptuous lo-fi soul shuffle of "Cherry", the head-nodding grooves and lyrical melancholy of "Happy Man" and the grandiose, bittersweet brilliance of "House In LA".
Review: The return of Slowdive has been one of the minor miracles of the 21st century thus far - having originally split up in a mist of disinterest and press opprobrium in the Britpop-damaged mid-'90s, the band have watched their profile and reputation slowly rise to the extent of them now being regarded as scene pioneers and innovators. True to its eponymous name, this album is the sound of these Thames Valley charmers re-asserting everything that made them magical in the first place a full quarter century on, not to mention a dizzying collision of ethereal harmonies, heavenly guitar cascades and opiated dreamstates possessed of a timeless allure.
Rushing Through My Mind (Mang Dynasty extended version) (8:03)
Rushing Through My Mind (Mang Dynasty instrumental version) (7:00)
Rushing Through My Mind (Mang Dynasty radio edit) (3:56)
Review: Ray Mang's slick disco stable Mangled calls upon a new pair of provocateurs to lay down a sun-kissed steamer to blow away those winter blues. The agents in question are Josefin Ohrn and The Liberation, and their "Mang Dynasty" is every inch the Balearic idyll rendered in a long form discoid jam. The extended version on the A side fully floats out into gently psychedelic waters guided by Ohrn's infectious hook, "I've got you rushing through my mind." For those who just want the groove there's the instrumental mix available as well, or you can always plump for the radio edit if time is short.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief (4:38)
True Love Waits (5:08)
Review: There was naturally much excitement when A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead's surprise ninth studio set, popped up on streaming and download services back in May. Here it gets a CD release, offering those who prefer physical products a chance to bathe in its' woozy eccentricities. Seen by some as a return to their arty rock roots following an extended period spend exploring electronics, the album's 11 tracks draw on a variety of influences (krautrock, ambient, Pavement, James Blake, Stockhausen, intense melancholia etc.), with predictably impressive results. Occasionally elegant, string-laden and grandiose, always beautiful, and sometimes intensely moving, A Moon Shaped Pool is undeniably up there with the band's best work.
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: There's plenty of anticipation around Big Thief's third record U.F.O.F., and we can say with confidence that it delivers on every front. A solid expansion of their last record, Capacity, U.F.O.F. for the most part goes deeper into diverse sonic territories that's emotionally raw and rich, calling to mind Elliott Smith, Joni Mitchell and various other accomplished singer songwriters especially in songs like "Contact" and "Cattails". Elsewhere, "Strange" and "Orange" provide a backing that seems more upbeat on the surface, yet the varied vocal technique of Adrianne Lenker, ranging from a whisper to a vulnerable bellow keeps us firmly captivated. The album really shines through when it reaches for slightly louder soundscapes, best heard on "Terminal Paradise" and "Jenni" (with the latter reminding us of "Washer" by Slint). All in all, U.F.O.F. will be a record that entrances you with its subtle yet haunting charm.
Review: It's been a whopping six years since the last Spiritualized album and Jason Pierce, the founding, spearhead member, behind the group's success honourably lives up to expanding the notion of 'space rock' into 2018, and beyond. On the airwaves it's been "I'm Your Man" that's charted most attention, a sombre-ish, horn-blowing, western number with a touch of the blues. Meanwhile there's also "Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go", a song that is said to be a list of instructions that leads the listener to Pierce's house. "The route is real," he says, while singing about rusty gates, paraphernalia and radios. Space may be the place, but if not, try over at Spiritualized.
Review: Crusading Rocker Sharon Van Etten returns from five years away releasing any long player, and, like her latest album attests, she's the come-back-kid. Full of jovial generation X angst and time-passing motifs - "I used to be 17..." sings the phrase in "Seventeen" - Van Etten has here successfully painted themes of '80s Americana & Nostalgia into a new kind or realism. There are heavier, more emotionally-laden ballads like "Jupiter 4", invoking a Melancholia-feel, of Lars Von Trier-esque persuasion, and with electronic production techniques entering her music more than heard before, alongside a bevy of warming but also haunting vocals, Van Etten's script for 2019 is here.
Review: Straight outta shoegaze central, Oxford UK, since 1989, Swervedriver have been providing us with smoothly distorted guitars, vocals of refreshing reverberation and just those hints of angst and melancholia to get you through the decade. Future Ruins, like a lot of post and alt-rock to hit the shelves these days has touches of nihilism abound, although it's no secret Swervedriver have been offering this atmosphere for aeons longer than most. For fans of bands like Dinosaur Jr. yes, Swervedriver's latest effort remains firmly within the grungey and pastel confines of shoegaze, and with the genre's hey day missed so much but so many, it's never a pain to revisit the glory days of motion picture soundtracks.