Review: It's fair to say that when The National release an album the Cincinnati originating supergroup garner the same type of attention that Radiohead once drew. With some futuristic production techniques creeping its way into the band's engineered sound, a new expressionism in the group's sound on "I Am Easy To Find" makes its way into the open, if only subtly. With the opening passages of "You Had Your Soul With You" sounding something like Battles' "Atlas", the music breaks down into a fanfare of traditional yet supercharged folk instrumentations; with drums, spoken word, strings in all their various forms, and the familiar smokey drawl of Matt Berninger's voice sitting snugly on top of subtle drum machines and synthesisers. Super ballads and sincerity.
Review: Western Australian haircuts Methyl Ethel bring their surrealist wares back to London's 4AD for a second time, following up the Everything Is Forgotten LP of 2017. Spearheaded by Jake Webb and his somewhat androgynous vocal take, a most alluring factor of the band's music, the group continue to deliver a musical blend of avant synth and indie pop with swathes of emotion we will compare to Bat For Lashes, Hot Chip and even in some cases, Tool. Achieving huge success down under, and once slated as just another "psychedelic rock band from Perth" by the smirking editorials of the big smoke, this homespun album sees Webb's avant take on pop at the edge, or ahead of the curve, of mainstream listening; See the drama of "Post-Blue", the summery haze of "Real Tight" and the concoction of sounds to make Arcade Fire blush in "All The Elements".
Why Do I Lose My Mind When I Have Something To Say?
Review: Through her 'U.S. Girls' project, Toronto-based Meg Remy has released a consistently high quality run of albums that explore issues of femininity with a shaded and angular avant-pop sound. New record 'In A Poem Unlimited' sees Remy continue to explore identity politics, but in a comparatively warmer and more free sound as she collaborates with improvisational group The Cosmic Range. Structurally, the album enjoys an unpredictability of form that sprawls across skulking grunge, found sounds, crunching horn-sections and synth-driven industrial disco. Highlight track 'Incidental Boogie' exemplifies this binding of elements; the contrast of stomping, distorted with Remy's breathy and swaggering vocals is an intoxicating one. The breadth of Remy's palette makes this album an exhilarating listen, and - both as a vocalist and writer - Remy shines as an arresting and formidable talent.
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: As Zach Condon prepares to embark on a mass trans-atlantic tour in support of this Gallipoli LP as Beirut, all the fanfare of his horns, bells and whistling croons are once again to be enjoyed in full for a fifth time. Debuting back in 2006 with Gulag Orkestar, Gallipoli adds to the band's stream of albums these past 15 years and presents the singer-songwriter's second appearance on London's great 4AD. Inspired by a chance encounter with a brass band procession on the fated Turkish peninsula which reminded him of the Italian films from his childhood, he named the album and title track after small, coastal town in Apulia, southern Italy. These influences can be heard across Gallipoli alongside the sweet screams of synths and chimes that adorn the others, to spates of bluesy tropicana and the sweet, melancholic and trumpeting tones the band are most cherished for.
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.