Review: Given that Mildlife's 2018 debut album Phase was both rather brilliant and a rip-roaring commercial success, this hotly anticipated follow-up will get plenty of attention. And rightly so, because Automatic may well be even better than its illustrious predecessor. Musically, it features the same unique mix of vintage krautrock synths, jazz-funk instrumentation and enjoyably organic grooves, just this time round they've stepped it up another notch or two. The Aussie combo is in fine form throughout, dotting between the Steely Dan style warmth of 'Rare Air', the Brit Funk style weightiness of 'Vapour', the cosmic, art-rock influenced haziness of 'Downstream', the almost horizontal bliss of nine-minute epic 'Citations', the colourful live nu-disco goodness of 'Memory Palace' and the seductive sweetness of 'Automatic'.
Review: Four years have passed since the Deftones released their previous studio album, Gore. That Ohms, their long-awaited ninth studio set, is such a strong proposition, may owe much to that extended hiatus. We could be speculating of course, but the fact that the album sounds like a distillation of all that is good about the band - think melancholic lyrics, fuzzy alt-metal guitars, energetic and loose-limbed drumming, and a freewheeling sense of punk-rock authenticity - suggests that they used the time to take stock. The fact that they also recorded it with Terry Date, the producer of their earliest and most acclaimed records, supports this theory. Either way, Ohms is a furious, forthright and emotive return to form.
Review: Originally unveiled in 1992, Blue Day represents one of the most exciting periods in the evolution of British shoegaze heroes Slowdive - their formative years. Comprising the first three EPs, or at least a good chunk of each and the entirety of the seminal Morningrise, it's less of a history lesson and more a reminder of just how well the seven-piece's music has stood the test of time.
There are some notable omissions, it's true. So the Slowdive songs here are missing 'Avalyn II'. And there's no 'Catch The Breeze' or cover of Syd Barrett's 'Golden Hair' included from Holding Our Breath. Still, with the ethereal yet jangly rock of 'She Calls', 'Losing Today''s dark, almost choral atmospherics, and the white noise and discordance of 'Albatross', ain't nobody complaining here.
Review: When it was initially released three decades ago in the summer of 1990, Slowdive's eponymous debut EP was heralded as an instant shoegaze classic: a drowsy, dreamy collection of hazy wall-of-sound, reverb-drenched songs that put the Reading band right at the heart of a growing musical movement. As this 30th anniversary reissue proves, it remains a fine collection of cuts. While lead cut 'Slowdive', a more orthodox fusion of shoegaze, dream-pop and indie-rock, was the one that chimed with listeners at the time, it's the two-part soundscape 'Avalyn' - and in particular the epic 'Avalyn II' - that resonates loudest in the 21st century. The latter track is so good that it's worth buying the EP just to get your hands on it.
Review: You can never really understate the impact Polly Jean Harvey had when she landed on the UK music scene, and the radars of tastemakers like John Peel, in the early-1990s. Guitar tracks at the time were usually split into unashamedly lager-soaked upfront Britpop, or nihilistic and self-sabotaging grunge and metal from the US. PJ Harvey was neither, and on 'To Bring You My Love' she perfected a particularly UK take on heavy, darkroom rock.
Pressing play means stepping into a world where the blues can either be a sparse, pitch black tome ('To Bring You My Love') or stomping and sweat-soaked juggernaut ('Meet Ze Monsta'), and that's just referencing the first two songs. Compare either to the trip-hop infused downtempo melancholia of 'The Dancer', and it's pretty clear why this was one of the albums of its decade.
Review: It's easy to forget this is the first new record we've had from Doves in more than a decade, given the rousing call to action and emotional intensity of aptly-titled album opener 'Carousel'. A huge, nostalgic fairground thumper that sets the adrenaline levels at 11, it could be their most confident album opener to date.
And The Universal Want is far from a tease, too, capturing the essence of what we hoped from this Manchester trio's comeback fanfare. From the science fiction synth beams of Bowie ode 'Cathedrals Of The Mind', to the redemptive and hope-filled stadium indie of 'For Tomorrow', and the title track's melancholic proto-house stomp, it's very much a record of our time but also one that will likely stand the test of time. A very welcome return for, and another schooling from, Jez Williams and his team.
Review: Mrs Dolphin by Pale Saints has only previously been available on CD in Japan, but for Record Store Day this year, 4AD finally press it to wax for the first time. It gets a full treatment, too, on limited, marbled green vinyl. The album is a compilation of early singles from both the group's early period 4AD EPs (Barging Into The Presence Of God and Half-Life) as well as a track that was on a Melody Maker compilation, Gigantic! 2, in 1990. As well as that, 'Colours and Shapes' is a track included here that was until now unavailable on vinyl.
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: Fontaines D.C. is one of the most exciting new bands to have emerged in the last year. Their debut Dogrel was a standout offering that turned plenty of heads and now under a year later they are back with more brilliance. The grizzly, punk laced 'A Hero's Death' has snarling vocal work from the front man while big walls of impenetrable guitars wash over you in arresting ways. On the flip, 'I Don't Belong' is less angsty, with a more subdued sound and forlorn sounding voice repeating the title's refrain to sombre effect.
Review: Smoked-out Texan psych troupe Khruangbin have picked a pretty apt moment to release this recording of their live show at Villain, Brooklyn. For starters, it's summer 2020, and if it weren't for a global pandemic there's a good chance a few of us would be recovering from the night before to a late-afternoon, or better yet early-evening performance from this lot at some festival or other. Secondly, because of said health crisis, we're all starved of the unique qualities that come from a band playing in the flesh. Dinner is definitely served here, then, via generous helpings of Laura Lee's bass-laden grooves and gorgeous, intoxicatingly airy vocal delivery. First laid down in 2018, when Khruangbin were touring in support of their second album, while 'Con Todo El Mundo' provides the majority of musical moments here, really 'Live At Villain' is a self-contained record - an hour or so of the band's typically magical and engrossing stage stuff, captured for keeps.
They Believe In Love (When They Look At You) (7:50)
Venus (instrumental) (13:44)
Review: While rock 'n' roll, in all its many forms from punk to doom, is usually considered the perfect outlet for rage and angry rebellion, guitars also have the power to spread more peaceful and empathetic messages. It's still an act of listening rebellion when you're in an age dominated by violence and distrust, but in a different, more positive way.
Solo album number seven for Thurston Moore is a case in point, realised thanks to input from his former Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley and My Bloody Valentine's Deb Googe. Don't think that means this is light stuff, mind. 'Hashish' might have an air of undeniable serenity about it, but the guitar lunge is all growl and threat. 'Cantaloupe' is stoner rock on steroids, and 'Breath' is one of the finest things you'll hear right now - 10 minutes that take us from vulnerable melodies to cacophony into locked, heads down rhythm.
Review: Warmduscher is a collective made up of Adam Harmer, Clams Baker, Lightnin' Jack Everett, Mr. Salt Fingers Lovecraft and The Witherer and since 2015 they have been offering up a unique indie sound, mostly on the Leaf label. Now they get some high profile remix treatment on this special Record Store Day 20020 release. Belgium brothers Soulwax take on 'Midnight Dipper' and turn out a stomping, fizzling track of synthetic sounds and gauzy guitar riffs, while Decius find a weird new take on disco that is tense and hypnotic. Savage Gary closes out in slow motion, twisted electronic fashion and quite possibly steals the show.
Review: While it had only been a few months since the release of her 4 Track Demos project, when To Bring You My Love first arrived in 1994 it felt like it had been a long time coming. Taking elements that made her early studio efforts stand out - the twisted mania of Dry and the Patti Smith-esque agony of Rid of Me - here Polly Jean Harvey fully embraced a kind of pained grunge-blues.
The resulting brew is particularly potent. Whether you're listening to the hushed, mysterious groove of 'Working For The Man', 'Long Snake Moan''s dark metal edges, or the sparse, troubled and deeply pained anthem 'Teclo', everything here is clearly the work of a genius. A fact that rings particularly true given these stunning versions represent her work in its original demo form.
Review: The world was very different in 1992, but some of the greatest musical moments from that year stand the test of time. Just take Polly Jean Harvey's staggering debut - the making of a musical icon and one of the era's finest examples of songwriting. It still sounds exceptional and its messages still resonate, lifting the woke-washed veil of our age in one fell swoop, laying bare the fact that many toxic attitudes prevail. It's rock music, but that's hardly the point. What matters isn't so much what's being played, but how and what's being said. Delivered with an air of Pixies and nod to Patti Smith, written in the wake of a relationship imploding, our introduction to Harvey remains vital as ever. A refusal to accept simplistic, patriarchal views of womanhood and femininity, or indeed simplistic patriarchal views of anything, the record's razor sharp observations, cunning wit and deft ability to reference but feel original is remarkable.
La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical Brothers vocal mix) (6:32)
La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical Brothers dub mix) (6:33)
Roses In The Hospital (Ashley Beedle OG Psychovocal remix) (4:50)
Roses In The Hospital (Ashley Beedle OG Psychomental remix) (4:20)
Review: Here comes another special record for this year's delayed Record Store Day - four different versions of The Manic Street Preachers' 'La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh).' The hard hitting original landed in 1992 on the Generation Terrorists/Gold Against The Soul album and now gets some special Chemical Brothers treatment. Of course, the Dust Brothers layer in wiry electronics and crashing big beats to make it a festival anthem and Ashley Beedle's OG Psychovocal remix also layers in some churning drums to add extra oomph.
Review: When Marie Davidson announced last year that she would be, "retiring from club music", many wondered what she'd do next. Renegade Breakdown, her first album recorded with a full band (L'Oeil Nu), answers that question. It sees the Canadian artist and her new collaborators deliver suitably arresting, personal and ear-catching songs built on mixing and matching a surprisingly wide variety of musical inspirations, from Blondie, classic disco and mutilated heavy metal guitars, to Kraftwerk, Billie Holiday, Fleetwood Mac and Daft Punk. It's a big shift for the previously highly experimental artist, but thanks to her skill as both a a producer and performer, one that works magnificently well.
Review: When Marie Davidson announced last year that she would be, "retiring from club music", many wondered what she'd do next. Renegade Breakdown, her first album recorded with a full band (L'Oeuil Nu), answers that question. It sees the Canadian artist and her new collaborators deliver suitably arresting, personal and ear-catching songs built on mixing and matching a surprisingly wide variety of musical inspirations, from Blondie, classic disco and mutilated heavy metal guitars, to Kraftwerk, Billie Holliday, Fleetwood Mac and Daft Punk. It's a big shift for the previously highly experimental artist, but thanks to her skill as both a a producer and performer, one that works magnificently well.
Review: Where do you start with this epic collection? Arthur Russell should be no stranger to any music boffin, having been a tour de force on the New York underground during the 1970s and 80s. A maestro of disco, formative-era dance music, anything remotely avant-garde, despite having worked on some of the most iconic releases of the day, he only produced three albums before passing before time. "Iowa Dream" is what was left behind, or at least to some extent. Archived and - for years - never earmarked for release, thanks to the tireless efforts of composer Peter Broderick, this collection of demos, home recordings, and lost songs has been restored, edited and mixed, then carefully placed on this lovingly-conceived compilation. The result is a must-buy for fans and newcomers alike and will only serve to cement Russell's place in the pantheons.
Review: The world moves quickly, and if you don't stop to reflect once in a while it's easy to lose sight of what's important - Field Music's sort-of-self-titled third album, Field Music (Measure), is certainly one of the important things. A decade young in 2010, it remains a crowning achievement, a sizeable ode to modern rock history, or at least from the 1970s onwards, which, thanks to the super-talents of the brothers Peter and David Brewis, sounds less like a pastiche and more a strong argument in favour for evolutionary music theory.
There are simply so many possible reference points across this 20 track masterpiece they become meaningless - it's a tapestry as original as it is born from everything worthwhile that has come before. Or a good chunk of it. Led Zeppelin, Talk Talk, XTC, Kate Bush, at times proggy, in other moments funk-driven, it seamlessly reels off new wave and balladry alike and should be considered a masterpiece.
Review: When the bass drops in for the intro of 'Dig In', followed by rolling lead guitar stabs and hooks, you know Leeds' I Like Trains have a very strong record on their hands here. Not that this should surprise anyone who has come across the sometimes surreal, always astute and innovative sort-of-post punks.
Arguably the most uptempo track on the album, it still reeks of melancholy and underdogs - the kind of track made by the stars you didn't see coming. Opening on the growly and pared back 'A Steady Hand', with its shades of electro tucked away behind rough and raucous riffs, you'd be hard pressed to pick anything here that doesn't stand out. 'Patience Is A Virtue' soars into stadia-filling proportions on an echoed, sparse guitar harmony, 'Eyes To The Left' closes out on a sensational piece of abstract piano pop, aided no end by Anika's vocals, which have more than a slight sense of AI machine love about them.