Review: If there were still justice in the digital age, and artists really got what was owed to them exposure-wise, Alex Cameron would be a safe bet for leftfield pop sensation. A multi-faceted songwriter, his previous two albums took us through a horror show of horrible characters and their innermost thoughts, twin roads that have somehow veered onto another course altogether for "Miami Memory". Here a much friendlier face is donned. Nevertheless, opener "Stepdad" makes intentions clear, with uptempo keyboard lines invoking the emotional qualities of mid-80s Prince. "Far From Born Again" tells the story of a "her" who's making bad choices, and the potential fallout of that, set to a Bruce Springsteen-sounding chorus, the likes of which can be found again on "Divorce". Not holding back, but instead holding a light up to a different side of his personality, it's Cameron's most positive to date and his best.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.