Review: Katie Stelmanis, the spectrally-voiced and ferociously-talented figure behind maverick electro-pop outfit Austra, set herself the not inconsiderable target of setting out 'a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia' with this third album, yet against all odds she's done a sterling job of marrying the icy binary chill of technology with a very human frailty to emerge with a defiant and emotionally affecting statement of intent. Indelible melody and Stelmanis' extraordinary tones may dominate, yet the sonic landscapes here - equally bracing and beatific - have the rare effect of making the listener hopeful for what 2017 has in store.
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: 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: A teaser single to the forthcoming album from Black Bananas. On the A-side, the multi-channel frequency overspill that flows freely through Black Bananas' sound has been combed up into a glamour 'do, ready to groove through a night on the town.Waves of the late light beam across the water, cool in the evening as we head out to tha club, where the guitars are MIDI, the synths bump'n'grind the beat and arc melodies high above the crowd's head, and the gasping of the clubbers is always on the one. Jennifer's sweet delivery is an ode to the stone soul joy of being out on the tiles. This track's a blast from an alternate dimension of weirdness, perfectly nailed from top to bottom. The B-side reworks the glare of recent glory. With four on the floor like they just don't care no more, Hot Chip outline the physical motions of Rad Times Xpress IV's "TV Trouble," with a hot remix.
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: These Liverpudlian beat mavens have always - like many great bands - been a mass of contradictions. Perpetually youthful yet with a sound forever entrenched in the heady haze of the late '60s, they've now set themselves up as something of an institution for a mindset based on worn copies of 'Forever Changes' and 'Five Leaves Left, Yet 'Distance Inbetween' - their first for five years - is proof positive that their charm, for all its familiarity, is unlikely to wear off soon. A bold and colourful display of world-class songwriting and heavy-lidded cool from perennial psychedelic peacocks.