Review: Tenderlonious' prolific explorations of contemporary jazz continue unabated with this new album from his supergroup, Ruby Rushton. With Mo Kolours and Yussef Dayes (formerly of Yussef Kamaal) amongst the highly skilled players in this ensemble, the quality spilling out of their fourth album need not be questioned. The band leader's signature flute stylings skip and twirl across the top of the music, with the overall brew striking that elusive but oh-so-sweet balance between loose, free-wheeling expression and rock solid groove. Fresh and satisfying at every turn, this is proof of why the modern jazz scene is so vibrant right now. Ruby Rushton can do no wrong!
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".
Review: Where were you seven years ago? School? High school? College? First job? Last job? Whatever the answer it's certainly not the same place as Efterklang were, and still are. The Danish trio have never been of this world, yet give us so many opportunities to consider the emotion and passion this world offers. The first album to be fully written in their native tongue accentuates those qualities - dreamy soundscapes, different and decidedly bewitching intonation. It's an epic journey, with the likes of "Uden Ansigt" among the most epic, like Bon Iver's vocals slow dancing with the soaring instrumentation of Sigur Ros. "Havet Lofter Sig" ups the beauty, fittingly on the shortest track - gentle pianos, unnaturally pitched backing voices and baritone lead creating real yearning, proving nothing great lasts forever. Or longer than a couple of minutes. Cutting to the chase, it's a mesmerising work you're sure to have on repeat.
Extreme Love (with Lily Anna Haynes & Jenna Sutela)
Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
Evening Shades (live Training)
Bridge (with Martine Syms)
Godmother (with Jlin)
Review: When it comes to working with voice and voice alone there's few artists out there that can really dissociate speech and its connection with the brain. Proto is the third full-length album by composer and sound artist Holly Herndon, and it brings out on onslaught of sounds that will keep you rooted in your seat. Opener "Birth" for example sounds something like a poor soul struggling with the deepest of emotions and most spellbinding of speech impediments. The music embraces rave and extreme cut up techniques with bass music and a myriad of experimental beats, ideas and philosophy. Much like SOPHIE's music there are so many reference points to discover; with our best comparisons being Enya, Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" and the cluster of music coming out of experimental label PAN. The album also features a collaboration with Planet Mu's Jlin with the gnawing beatboxes of "Godmother". What a trip to redefine what we might one day call 'prototypical' - but for now, take a deep breath and dive into the multi-dimensional abyss.
Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.
Review: To live a life with harmony is some of the first lyrics spent on Aldous Harding's anticipated Designer album, and she gives us plenty here. Easy going '90s coastal pop nostalgia is subtly blended into folky storytelling of up-front, breathy vocals, strumming and finger picked guitars, to acoustic drums and various strokes of piano. Patti Smith influences, to Nico, Kate Bush and even Cat Power similarities and inspirations are there to be found on this LP too. And with the New Zealand singer-songwriter already making quite the impression with her Party LP from two years ago, her debut on the always impressing 4AD, this sophomore album looks to conjure up more of her sweet and dreamy flow yet.
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: Brussels-based Echo Collective is an extended crew of classically trained musicians helmed by Neil Leiter and Margaret Hermant. While they've been active for some time and worked on countless projects, Plays Amnesiac - a re-imagining of Radiohead's 2001 album of the same name - marks their full-length debut. It's an undeniably impressive collection, with Thom Yorke and company's glitchy, heavily electronic original songs re-cast as neo-classical pieces rich in arresting clarinet and oboe lines, jazzy live drums, cut-glass violins and gentle orchestration. Occasionally projects like this can feel a bit gimmicky, but Plays Amnesiac simply oozes class from start to finish. There are no cheesy gimmicks here, just sublime, classical-jazz fusion cuts that dance from the speakers like the soundtrack of a film we've yet to see.
Review: Discerning diggers will know that an original copy of this funk soul gem from 1978 often fetch close to four figures. Initially released on a little known label in Mississippi, Acid Jazz now give it the proper reissue treatment. It is filled with passionate soul songs that stride forward with purpose and pride. "Let Me Be Your Lover" is the breakout single that will get most club plays, but the sliding hi hats and twangy bass of "Gonna Find A True Love" will also do plenty of damage. The version included here is slightly different to the single that was reissued earlier this year, but is well worthy of its inclusion.
Review: Spirits of the east converge from Russia and Romania for this fresh and inspired collaboration between Tess Conway and Radoslav Monrovani. Having forged respected names for themselves amid the fading shades of witch-house, both artists have merged influences & long established studio skills from afar to invoke dark energies, creating a theatre of menacing atmospheres and occult mystique. A multitude of live Instrumentation has been used in the production of this haunting offering including guitar, piano, kalimba, sampled Asian percussion, alongside an array of MIDI programmed, hardware synthesizers & processing. Adaptive Sonic Music was formed to coordinate final stages of production for this and further releases due in months to come.
Review: The criticism of Anderson .Paak's last album, the glossy, big-budget "Oxnard", was so voluminous that his mum took to social media to defend it. The fast-rising rapper laughed off the haters at the time, but it must have hurt. Either way, he's changed direction again on "Ventura", a follow-up that's noticeably more refrained than its predecessor. Musically, what we're offered is stripped-back '70s soul and Prince style purple funk instrumentation fused with head-nodding hip-hop and R&B beats. Paak is lyrically on point throughout, eschewing some of his more sexually explicit lyrics in the post #MeToo era. To complete the picture of an artist going back to his roots, the assembled guests (Outkast's Andre 3000 included) are generally pushed to the background in an unobtrusive manner.