Catherine Brenot - "Et Tout Est Yin Et Tout Est Yang" (club mix)
1 Plus 1 - "Coming Up For Air" (instrumental)
Fragile - "We've Got Tonight, Boy"
Jarmaz - "Night City Life" (Disco remix)
Friend Of Mine - "Just Your Pride"
Mac & Monica - "You're So Good To Me"
Sala & H - "Feel The Love"
Alexandra - "Fantasia (Fantasy)"
Gioia - "No Secrets" (instrumental)
Janelle - "Don't Be Shy" (dub)
Alessandro Scellino - "Dinner In The Jungle" (Erotic mix)
Brian Tatcher - "Hot Love" (instrumental dub version)
Preludio - "Mysterious Nights"
Review: Ilan Pdahtzur is as obsessive a record digger as any of his more visible peers. His particular niche is early to mid-eighties club music, and now he gets a platform to show off his skills thanks to the Spacetalk label. "Night City Life" is about music to match that exact setting - nocturnal urban metropolises with glowing neon lights shimmering in the darkness. There's a lot to love across four sides of vinyl here, from Italo disco to steamy boogie cuts and iridescent synth jams. It will make you nostalgic for a time and place you've never experienced (at least not as perfectly as this) and no doubt get plenty of dance floors on their feet.
Review: Saxophonist and keyboardist Jorja Chalmers has accomplished much over the course of her career - she's toured and recorded extensively with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music - but debut album "Human Again" marks the first time she's stood centre stage as a solo artist. She has all the ingredients to succeed on her own, though: a bold look, a supportive label in Italians Do It Better and a signature style that's in turns creepy, claustrophobic, cinematic, atmospheric and seductive. More importantly, "Human Again" is superb, offering a synthesizer-powered mix of dark ambient instrumentals, David Lynch style soundtrack pieces, drowsy and clandestine sounding songs and cuts that wrap her distinctive saxophone solos around the most evocative of electronic soundscapes.
Review: There's a chance this Liverpudlian four piece will be familiar by now. This, their 11th studio outing, first unveiled as the 1960s slipped into the 70s, is a bonafide epic from an outfit that weren't lacking in epics; in many ways a culmination of their time together, marking the end of their active years and beginning of their legacy. By this stage, then, they've emerged from years spent on the inner journey and time on the outer, space cadeting to the hallucinogenic fuelled tones of "Sgt. Peppers" and "Revolver". Of course, there's still plenty of explorations happening, but the gritty blues rock of opening track "Come Together" really sets the tone. Five decades on, it still sounds great and maybe even better than you remember. Even if you own the original, this anniversary edition is worth having.
Review: In the world of slow burners, "Habit" ranks among the slowest. For some, it's the fabled iconic first release from Lindsay Jordan, Shawn Durham, and Ryan Vieira, who shot to cult attention through a gig with the legendary Priests. For others, it'll be a slightly avant-leaning, DIY-garage rock effort packed with pained cries and instrumental cacophonies. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, it's fantastic. "Dirt" might display the band's scope the most, toying with rhythms, lyrics compelling even the most unemotional ears. "Stick" shows off Snail Mail's talent for balladry that belongs on the score to an indie movie about coming of age on the fringes of society. Throw in the forthright, uptempo "The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl In The World", which combines Jordan's innocent vocals with crashing cymbals and runaway guitars, and it's no surprise this has achieved cult status.
Metal Banshee ( Mad Professor Mix One) (CD2: Mezzanine Mad Professor)
Angel (Angel Dust)
Teardrop (Mazaruni dub One)
Inertia Creeps (Floating On dubwise)
Risingson (Setting Sun dub Two)
Exchange (Mountain Steppers dub)
Wire (Leaping dub)
Group Four (Security Forces dub)
Review: Two decades have passed since Massive Attack signaled a new stage in their career with the dark, paranoid and claustrophobic brilliance of "Mezzanine", their third studio album. Given the current global political climate, it arguably sounds even more relevant 20 years after it first hit stores. This time round, the re-mastered original set comes accompanied by something none of us have heard before: Mad Professor's complete dub translation, which was slated for release around the turn of the Millennium but for one reason or another never came out. Like his take on "No Protection", it's an inspired set of revisions that takes 3D and Daddy G's dense and red-eyed originals into wild new bass-heavy places. Even if you own the original version already, it's well worth picking up this special edition just for that alone.
Review: It's only been a year since his last release but in that time Stones Throw man Kiefer has toured the USA and Europe, released a mini-album as well as making three beats for Anderson .Paak's last two albums "Oxnard" and "Ventura". "Superbloom" finds him at his best, with invigorating sunny day beats and bright synths soundtracking a lovely afternoon the park. Jazz stylings, introspective chords and plaintive piano playing make this an emotionally stirring record with real depth, and one that reveals more with each listen. It feels like Kiefer's most honest, vulnerable and personal album yet.
Review: From the moment opening track "Giving Up" hits you with its timeless pop rock romanticism you're immediately transported to some bygone era, when the charts really meant something, everything on the radio inspired boy-meeting-girl, vice versa, or indeed non-binary-meeting-non-binary. You know - when things were right with the world. Dangerously close to pastiche, the quality of the songwriting and infectious instrumentation elevate this second long form from Chicago's greatest hope(s) to a whole other level. Listen to the brass work on "Rhododendron", a jaunty walk in the park after that surprisingly good first date. "Valleys (My Love)" anthemic chorus and lilting strings. The crooning guitars of "Before I Know It". These tracks pay homage to golden era love songs, when mainstream was experimental because so little had come before. And yet they all stand up today - mesmerising proof that fashions come and go, but style is omnipresent.
The Return (feat Thando, Jace XL, Alien & Whosane)
Don't Give Up (feat Mandarin Dreams)
Made Us Better (feat Blue Lab beats, Boadi & Lori)
Review: After Sampa's magic debut album it makes sense she's been signed by Ninja Tune for a follow up. Once again here the Zambian-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper is in excellent form, delivering slick, complex verses that she says are "the most me to date". Exploring notions of race and relationships, amongst other things, her voice is couched in gorgeous broken beat, hip hop and r&b production. Highlights are plentiful throughout - "OMG" is a funky afro beat, "Any Day" is neo soul in the mould of Erykah Badu and "Final Form" is a trumpet lead, warrior queen anthem to get your chest pumping. Essential.
Review: Troubadour for the dejected, rejected, never-did-fits, Ezra Furman deserves to be ranked among the greatest songwriters of our time. On "Twelve Nudes" he takes the hard-learnt lessons of previous records and channels that anger, desperation, euphoria, fear and hope into an impassioned call to arms - his finest since "Perpetual Motion People". In many ways, this is a far more positive outing, too, or at least one that largely keeps the focus on big noise. "My Teeth Hurt" and "Thermometer" are ferocious, head-banging whirlwinds. "Evening Prayer aka Justice" throws fists to the air with protest-esque pride. "Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone" offers Northern Soul-leaning drums and rhythms. Of course, there's still room for freaky, introspective rockabilly melancholia - namely "I Wanna be Your Girlfriend". Like Furman himself on-stage, it's unashamed and unwilling to compromise, making for one of this year's finest bloody-lipped, sweat-soaked rock 'n' roll records.
Review: Since debuting in the early 2000s, Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak have established themselves as one of Europe's premier purveyors of eclectic, funk-fuelled dancefloor positivity. It's little surprise then to find that their new album "Pleasure Centre" - their sixth studio set in total - is another joyous romp. This time round, they've drawn more influence from West Coast style blue-eyed soul and yacht rock while continuing to offer nods towards boogie, P-funk, synth-pop, '80s soul, jazz-funk and Rotary Connection (see the superb "Twilght", with vocals by rising star Izo FitzRoy). It's a wonderfully warm and attractive blend, with the result being a superb collection of dancefloor cuts and heady downtempo numbers that all adds up to their best album to date.
Review: If you're new to the Alex Giannascoli's world then make yourself comfortable - chances are, like us, you'll be here for a while. There are so many tangents, threads and stylistic shifts of shape it's possible to dive into his back catalogue and spend years never getting bored. It's now far quicker to understand what we're talking about, though, thanks to his latest album. There are multiple personalities at play here than you'd think could be coherent, but coherent this record is. Opener "Walk Away" sounds like an overview of the whole thing - growing from desperate cry into a grandiose, captivating thing of real beauty via reversed-out backing track and looped lyrics. All very Beta Band. From there we're locked-in, through the shimmering melodies of "Taking" to "Sugar"'s deep, tense atmospheric crescendos and vocoders. Ending on the stunning brass-accented blues rock of "SugarHouse (Live)", it's as complete a record as you could ask for.
Review: Over the course of her three year solo career, London-based Australian Carla Dal Forno has steadily moved from a dark, stylish and bleak all-electronic sound to something a little warmer and more organic in tone. On "Look Up Sharp", her third album, she continues this trend, complimenting her usual lo-fi drum machines and synths with low-slung post-punk bass and the kind of pastoral, traditional instrumentation more often associated with folk music (think flutes, recorders, clarinet etc.). It's a curious blend, but one that works wonderfully well throughout the album, and especially on those songs to which she adds evocative, often melancholic vocals.
Review: The dusty-fingered diggers behind the BBE label have a reputation for unearthing obscure or unreleased gems, though we doubt that they've previously discovered anything quite as significant as this. Ebo Taylor, the undisputed king of Ghanaian "funky-highlife", recorded "Palaver" with his touring band way back in 1980, but for reasons the man himself can't even remember, Nigerian imprint Tabansi Records never got round to releasing it. That remains an odd decision, because "Palaver" shows Taylor at his very best, with the sax and trumpet-laden brilliance of "Make You No Mind" and the righteous, Afrobeat-influenced highlife brilliance of "Help Africa" being every bit as potent as the Ghanaian's most revered work.
Review: Moonchild are one of the many jewels in the Tru Thoughts fam. Their mellifluous sound melts jazz chords, angelic neo-soul vocals and broken beats to cathartic effect, and "Little Ghost" marks the LA-based band's third album on the label, fourth overall. There are no great deviations from their signature formula here, but that's not a problem: there will always be space in anyone's collection for the golden late night grooves of "Too Much To Ask," twinkling keys of "Sweet Love" and romantic Sunday morning sounds of the enchanting "Strength," amongst many other highlights.
Review: Recorded in New York in 1966, Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata" - her first for the legendary Reprise Records imprint - has long been considered one of the most important and influential South African albums of all time. Strut certainly thinks so and has offered up a "definitive version" that contains both mono and stereo mixes of the album, alongside new sleeve notes that tell the singer's remarkable story in vivid detail. Musically the set is rooted in jazz, but also incorporates sounds, rhythms and instrumentation not only reflective of Makeba's home country, but also nods to American soul, Latin rhythms and calypso (the latter showcasing the influence of her mentor, Harry Belafonte).
Review: God bless Metronomy. Pioneers of a dance-indie crossover that was less garish and day-glow hued than the Nu Rave movement dominant back then. Their sixth full-length comes in the 10th anniversary year of their first, and proves the band have grown and fine-tuned, rather than got lost and forgotten why they came out to begin with. Despite clear development, though, the spirit of that inaugural effort is still here, and arguably in more generous helpings than any outing between then and now. Equal parts playful and earnest, there's plenty here to fall in love with. Single-worthy outings like the bouncy, floor-filler "Salted Caramel Ice Cream" and the appropriately titled pairing "Wedding" and "Wedding Bells" are confident and big room sounding. "The Light" veers into dubbier, more introverted directions, whereas "Upset My Girlfriend" shows them at their most heart-achingly beautiful and human. Exquisite, as usual.
Review: As the vibrant and colourful cover artwork makes clear, Moon Boots latest album for Anjunadeep - his second following well-received 2017 debut "First Landing" - is a wonderfully kaleidoscopic and positive affair full of cheery, dancefloor-friendly songs and picturesque instrumentals (see the twinkling "Trance & Dental"). The American producer is a master at blurring the boundaries between radio-friendly house, deep synth-pop and nu-disco, and much of "Bimini Road" is based around this accessible and summery musical intersection. There are a few pleasing curveballs dotted across the LP, though, including the title track's piano-heavy Balearic chug and the sunny two-step garage-pop of Gary Saxby hook-up "Gary's House".
Review: Considering their penchant for spinning yarns and the cinematographically-suited nature of much of their work, it's surprising "Days Of The Bagnold Summer" is only Belle & Sebastian's second shot at a movie score. The last was 2001's '"Storytelling", accompanying Todd Solondz's movie of the same name, and they certainly did a good job then. So, high expectations this time round. For those unfamiliar, their latest foray into the film world partners the directorial debut of Simon Bird, best known to many as one of "The Inbetweeners". The flick, an adaptation of Joff Winterhart's 2012 graphic novel, chronicles the life and times of a teenage metalhead and his single mother. The album perfectly accompanies but also contributes to that tale. Highly emotive instrumental tracks and classic B&S songs-proper, this OST is destined to go down well with the band's true believers.
Review: Veteran grime star and rap giant Kano uses the hoodie as a symbolic crux throughout his sixth album. It's an item of clothing often associated with criminality and errant youths, but here he re-casts it as a form of protection for young black men who have a wide range of racial and societal pressures to deal with. It makes for a politically charged album with shiny electronica next to stark and prickly beats, melancholic pianos and minimal garage rhythms. A musically expansive work that crosses many styles and scenes, but remains united by Kano's ever impassioned deliveries.
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.
Review: Where would we be without our mothers? Literally nowhere, of course, given the medical facts of life. But psychologically and spiritually somewhere very different, too. Just ask Devendra Banhart, whose latest, heartbreaking and poignant LP packs intimidating strength and thoughtful themes by the birth-giving load. Here the synths that dominated more recent albums are replaced by instruments best described as "a bit earthier", with strings and woodwinds joining brass and keys. Despite its title, this album is less a dedication to motherhood itself and more a meditation on emotional ties and links in general. "Memorial", for example, is about the death of Banhart's father, while elsewhere we are told love is like "crowd surfing in an empty club". As per usual, Banhart's songwriting verges on mania, recalling the late-Daniel Johnston's razor sharp observations wrapped in innocent imagery, while the instrumentation conjures Burt Bacharach and the like.
Review: Music For Dreams' latest must-have compilation of obscure Balearic treats comes courtesy of noted digger Basso, a DJ, producer and re-editor who has previously released some killer scalpel jobs on Joe's Bakery and People Must Jam. You'll find one of his edits tucked away towards the end of the EP - a tidy extension of Wolfsmond's sun-kissed, Chris Rea-esque German language number "Fuhl Dich Frei" - alongside stunning selections that variously touch on stoned West Coast jazz-rock, new age, ambient, drowsy 80s pop, kosmiche and loved-up late night AOR shufflers. An inspired collection of pretty much unknown gems; what's not to like?
Review: Since turning up in the Windy city a few years ago, spiritual jazz singer, clarinetist and composer Angel Bat Dawid has become a stalwart of Chicago's vibrant avant-garde scene. Here he delivers a debut album that should, if there's any justice at least, propel her towards international superstardom. Both her melancholic clarinet lines and distinctive singing feature prominently throughout, alongside sparse percussion, occasional Afro-futurist synthesizer motifs, harp and guitars - all of which Dawid plays herself. It's a virtuoso display that more than confirms her status as one of the spiritual jazz scene's most authentic voices.
Review: A Welsh language album with a couple of verses in Zulu and an English title. If one thing was already clear about the enigmatic Gruff Rhys it's that he doesn't play strictly by numbers, making "Pang!" a logical addition to this oeuvre. If, of course, you're familiar with his oeuvre. Opening with its titular track, the artist immediately makes the few remaining newcomers to his work aware of his deft skills. Complex guitar instrumentation, soft, padding, exotic drum arrangements and - for most people - foreign lyrics. We're immediately transported to faraway climes, and it's here we stay. Playful percussion and looped six strings on "Niwl O Anwiredd". The celebratory "Ara Deg (Ddaw'r Awen)", which recalls sub-Saharan crossover pop. The surreal atmosphere of "Digidigol" - where marching band meets opera in a haze of lilting chords. Put simply, it might be Rhys' most explorative yet, and that's saying something.
Review: There are two things Starcrawler can definitely be described as - lost children of the 1970s, and incredibly Los Angeles in style. They make music that seems impossible to remove from one of the headiest rock 'n' roll decades in history, despite age preventing them from actually having been there at the time. It also falls on the polished side of heavy metal, channeling both pop punk and bare-chested, sweat-soaked guitar solos in one fell swoop. The result is a record that plays out like a bar fight in Tinsel Town. Muscular, powerful, driving and unarguably sexy, from the gaggle of kids preceding the onslaught of opener "Lizzy" to the final, liquor-soaked midnight sing-a-long of "Call Me A Baby", "Devour You" does what it says on the tin, with all the subtlety of Hollywood's finest, and perhaps even more entertainment value.
Review: When the end days come and it's finally time to write the complete story of American rock 'n' roll, surely Pixies will get their own chapter. Legends of the grunge world, often known for a stylistic simplicity (quiet-LOUD anyone?) but unafraid to go out on a psychedelic limb when the moment suits, they've towered above the majority of acts for 28 years and, as "Beneath The Eyrie" proves, still have plenty to say. "In The Arms of Mrs Mark Of Cain" starts proceedings on a gothic-Western hybrid tip, setting things up perfectly for any song named "Graveyard Hill". Realistically when that track does arrive it switches the mood with a nod to the band's archetypal punk-infused sound, and that's precisely the point. Apparently betting the farm on this one, it's got everything from psych-folk to Tim Burton-ish ghoulish wit, making for the band's finest hour since their 2004 reformation.
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.
Ondigui & Bota Tabansi International - "Wonderful For Ashawo"
Victor Chukwu - "Wonderful For Ashawo"
Review: Over the next couple of years, BBE is going to reissue more than 60 titles from the epic back catalogue of leading Nigerian independent label Tabansi Records. To wet appetites, the label has decided to offer up this deliberately eclectic sampler. It focuses on music recorded and released in the 1970s and 80s, giddily dancing between highlife, Afrobeat, funk, soul, disco, rumba and soukous. There's tons to get excited about, including Ebo Taylor's previously unreleased Afrobeat/highlife fusion jam "Make You No Mind", the synthesizer-driven deep boogie flex of Nkono Teles' "Love Vibration", the highlife/juju flex of Victor Chukwu's "Wonderful For Ashawo" and the horn-tooting cheeriness of Zack And Geebah's "For The Love Of Money".
Review: The latest volume in BBE's J Jazz Masterclass series is something of a stone-cold classic: then young Japanese pianist Makoto Terashita's 1983 album-length collaboration with legendary tenor saxophonist Harold Land. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time that the sought-after set has been reissued since, making it something of a must-have for serious jazz fans. Both players are clearly audible throughout the LP, with the accompanying bassist and drummer generally kept low in the mix. It's an approach that pays dividends from start to finish, with highlights including the poignant and picturesque "Dear Friends", the epic dancefloor flex of "Dragon Dance" and the raucous, high-octane thrills of "Crossing".
Review: Jazz-man Greg Foat has always been more open-minded and eclectic than many give him credit for, delivering nods to pastoral folk, movie soundtracks and library music amongst his more jazz-focused output. Even so, "Photosynthesis" is still a curveball, featuring as it does drowsy and mostly leisurely soundscapes that move from Radiophonic Workshop influenced weird-outs and mutant lounge music, to stoned horizontal grooves and post trip-hop soundscapes. Interestingly, some of the album's standout moments come laden with woozy electric pianos and the kind of hazy, slow motion guitar motifs that evoke mental images of long, drawn-out sunsets.
Review: Mancunian legends Graham Massey and Andy Barker reunite for the first 808 State album in 17 years. They recorded the new opus "Transmission Suite" in the Granada studios (where they once performed live on television 30 years ago) and looked to their hometown's club scene as their main source of influence - along with the timeless aesthetic of Detroit which has always influenced their style. Across this collection of "sonic landscapes" (as described by Massey) you'll hear the booming acid electro of first single "Tokyo Tokyo" and "The Ludwig Question", through to off-kilter jams like "Westland", futurist house grooves of "Ujala" and a modern reboot of classic "Angol Argol".
Review: Justin Vernon's voice has always been the people's main attraction to Bon Iver, and the fact his pseudonym even exists is certainly no coincidence. As fragile and heartbroken as it is forthright and experienced, when you're wearing a shredded heart on sleeve and confessing to all your deepest insecurities using a pen name can help immensely. Album number four perhaps proves this more than any of its predecessors. While the three previous chapters have all made his thoughts, feelings, insecurities and fears clear, this one takes honesty to new heights. Combining the frail electronics that have gradually slipped their way into his back catalogue with the acoustics of his earliest, rocket-to-fame efforts, it's a culmination of all that's been in the truest sense. Perhaps even more intimate than the breathtakingly personal "For Emma, Forever Ago", "i,i" is a striking work to say the least.
Jarvis Cocker/David Cunningham - "The Interrogative Mood"
The Katzenjammers - "Cars"
Joseph & Louise Spence - "Won't That Be A Happy Time"
Andrew Wartts & The Gospel Storytellers - "Peter & John"
Bob Welch - "Don't Wait Too Long"
Alternative TV - "Cold Rain"
Serafina Steer - "Day Glo"
The Kings Singers - "After The Gold Rush"
Miranda July - "Rock Intro"
Morgana King - "It's A Quiet Thing"
Nina Simone - "Baltimore"
Art Garfunkel - "Waters Of March"
The Legendary Tigerman - "The Whole World's Got Eyes On You"
Cabaret Voltaire - "The Single"
Derek Cain/Derek Bowskill - "December"
Deanna Storey/John Brion - "Little Person"
Jake Thakray - "Old Molly Metcalf"
The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Group - "Gymnopedie No 3"
The Phoenix Foundation/Christopher Hitchens - "Corale/Thoughts On Religion"
Headless Heroes - "True Love Will Find You In The End"
Review: He will forever be known as the frontman of Pulp, but for many music lovers Jarvis Cocker has also won our affections with his erudite selections for his BBC 6 Music show. Entitled Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service, it ran every week from 2010 to 2017 and now a selection of his personal favourites get the compilation treatment. Reflecting the mood of most Sundays, the music is soothing, soft and mellow, but always high quality. There are stunning covers or Beyonce by Anthony & the Jonsons and Gary Numan's "Cars" on steel drums, plaintive piano pieces from John Baker and a classic from Nina Simone amongst a whole treasure trove of gems.
Review: Talk to anyone about Stranger Things and it will only be a matter of minutes before the sensational soundtrack is mentioned. The future retro synths of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have a huge impact on deepening the occult feelings you experience when watching the show and that continued through Series 3. Now you can grab the accompanying tracks on this mysterious CD, which features the vulnerable "You're A Fighter", celebratory 80s synth pop stomps of "Starcourt" and meditative charms of "The Ceiling Is Beautiful" amongst other nuggets of gold. The producers themselves have said this is less a score and more a series of cues, and it certainly got us thinking.
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.
Kai Alce - "Power Thru Part 3 (Don't Turn On The Lights)" (feat Azulu Phantom - Martinez Brothers edit)
Big Strick - "Spontaneous Combustion"
Glen Lewis - "Life Everlasting" (feat Njojo & Bongani - Dennis Ferrer's Passion Of C dub)
Love Letters - "Ducue" (Xtended Dick dub)
Dan Curtinb - "Echozeichen"
Brinton Mckay - "Real Cool" (Abe Duque remix)
The Martinez Brothers - "Mistakes"
Trevor Rockcliffe - "Visions Of You" (feat Blake Baxter - Carl Cox remix)
Paul Johnson - "House Illusion"
Party Crashers - "Come & Get It"
Sir Lord Commix - "Chicago Jazz"
K Alexi Shelby - "Spanish Fly"
Louie Vega & The Martinez Brothers - "Let It Go" (TMB alternate version)
Review: The new incarnation of the famous fabric mix series serves up a big one here with Ibiza kingpins and US house torchbearers The Martinez Brothers laying down a fulsome 23 track mix. It brims with the sort of energy that they always have themselves in the booth and takes you on a contemporary trip through the bendy minimal of Cabanne, Frak's percussive workout and some tropical curveballs from The Bayara Citizens. The Brothers also impress with two of their own tracks - "Jam Joint" and "Mistakes" - full of wonky synth work and shuffling drums, and it marks another highpoint in their longstanding career.
Review: Trailed as a direct sequel to his previous solo album, 2017's "Avanti", "Volume Massimo" sees Nine Inch Nails member Alessandro Cortini offer up another immersive trip through droning guitar textures, repetitive synthesizer motifs, exotic sitar parts and fuzzy electronics. It's effectively a series of "maximal" instrumental soundscapes with sounds so large and layered they rise above the "meditative" tag pushed by Mute's PR team. This is no criticism, though, just a reflection that while contemplative at times, one of the most joyous things about the album is Cortini's ability to build thrilling walls of sound.
Review: When bands hit album four, two things can happen - or three. Some suffer from a crisis of creativity, opting to regurgitate or, worse still, stagnate. Others opt for reinvention, with as many getting it right as going well off-piste, alienating faithful fans in the process. The lucky ones, meanwhile, hit the nail on the head with their most accomplished and complete work to date. Consider Frankie Cosmos among the lucky ones, then, not that luck had much to do with it. Recorded in their New York hometown, everything about the record feels comfortable in that there's nothing forced, and yet it engages and grabs from the off. Lilting, lo-fi rock 'n' roll odes to love, life and the genre itself, anyone who's ever wondered what Cate Le Bon might sound like having a pancake breakfast with The Orielles should grab a seat at this table.
Review: It's hard not to feel hypnotised by "How To Live". Modern Nature's debut long form outing opens with the sombre, mournful strings of "Bloom" - a strong case for albums setting the mood before developing. Finally kicking in with a stepping, building track, from thereon in the record expands, contracts and burrows through looping guitars, segments of field recordings, earthly folk lyricism, and wild saxophone solos. Second-to-last track "Nature" is almost a mirror image of "Footsteps", or at least an answer to any prevailing questions - they get deeper and more immersive. "Nightmares" pulls you in with gentle synths rippling in the background beneath soft lines of brass. "Criminals", meanwhile, is a more complex sounding affair, a fittingly dark-hued arrangement of simple guitar hook and slightly unnerving timbre that slowly reveals its true, far more positive intentions.
Review: Who remembers Joel Wastberg aka sir Was' 2017 LP, "Digging A Tunnel"? It was one of those albums that achieved cult status not just because of its star's unarguable talent, but its means of production. Recorded close enough to a train line to feel the locomotives shaking the studio itself, it had to be loud, daring and striking to drown out the passing carriages. "Holding On To A Dream" is an altogether quieter affair because the two years between then and now have afforded our man luxuries like a real place to refine his wares. And refine them he has. "No Giving Up" is smooth pop perfection. "The Sun Will Shine" takes us closer to soul, while "Deployed" emphasises electronics to create something closer to early-MGMT's intimate moments than MGMT seem capable of these days - Little "does-no-wrong" Dragon's guest appearance accentuating the notion that this is exquisitely crafted stuff, and far from by numbers.
Review: South London pianist and composer Ashley Henry is a versatile musician who can move between all niches within his musical realm: hip hop, broken beat, jazz and fusion flows from his finger tips and all characterise his expansive and expressive new album "Beautiful Vinyl Hunter". Stellar collaborators Makaya McCraven, Judi Jackson and MC Sparkz amongst others all help enrich this album as it flows from post-bop to classic jazz to neo-soul in thrilling fashion. Rooted in tradition but with a distinctly London edge that soars to new heights, this record sets a new benchmark for the contemporary scene.
Review: Don't believe everything you read - the fifth Bat For Lashes album confirms this girl (or woman) found herself musically and thematically some time ago, freeing up creative energy to explore new approaches to deliver her often mournful, always heartfelt songs inspired by personal crises and private longings. On this outing there's more than a hint of 1980s pop evident in the mix. Shades of Prince ("Feel For You"), Madonna ("So Good"), Bowie's Berlin days and electro-era Gary Numan (the stunning, infectious instrumental "Vampires") cast the record in a nostalgia that suits the sense of yearning that always seems to pervade Natasha Khan's work. Simply name-checking reference points is lazy and unfair, though. This is an incredible collection of tracks moulded in the artist's own image - bold, beautiful and instantly captivating. Then again, it would be surprising if anyone had expected anything less.
Review: No matter how hard they try, some bands struggle to make people dislike them. Take Los Angeles trio, Automatic. Sure, militant guitar fans might find a little to complain about, what with the distinct focus on synthdom here, but realistically that's like saying you hate pies because sandwiches also exist. There's more than a touch of Neu! and Suicide in this indie-post punk mix up, but we wouldn't want anyone to think they'd heard this before. Unless, of course, you actually have heard this lot before. Working within sounds that often feel explored to the nth degree, we're dealing with a band disinterested in convention but obsessed with making you feel immediately at home with them. From the rolling bass, distorted electro refrains and send-return vocals of "Too Much Money" through "Highway'"'s darkroom neo-dance bounce, to the slo-mo, anthemic closer "Strange Conversations", this debut album stands out for miles.
Review: Since first emerging 23 years ago, Turkish outfit Baba Zula has developed a distinctive take on their homeland's psych-funk and psych-rock traditions, offering up albums that combine elements of occidental musical culture with low slung psychedelic rock grooves, spacey electronics and the delay-laden hum of dub. It's this unique fusion of past, present and future sounds from Middle Eastern and Western culture that makes their latest album - their first for five years - such a rewarding and enjoyable listen. While unique and hard to pigeonhole, each of the ten tracks is undeniably impressive, wonderfully evocative, genuinely atmospheric and - as you'd expect given their roots - more psychedelic than tea with Timothy Leary on the moon.
Review: Earlier this year, PJ Harvey wrote the score to director Ivan van Hove's theatrical adaptation of award winning 1950 film "All About Eve". Like the play itself, the score won praise, with critics acclaiming its' combination of emotion-stirring new musical motifs and the creative way in which Harvey used elements of Franz Liszt's "Liebestraum", a piece of music that featured heavily in the original movie. You can now judge it for yourselves thanks to this recording by Harvey, two fellow musicians and play stars Gillian Anderson and Lily James (each sings one song). We were spellbound, and we think you probably will be too.
Review: A new album from Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points is always cause for celebration, but even by his standards "Crush" is rather special. Largely eschewing the ambient jazz soundscape shuffle of 2017's "Reflections - Mojave Desert", it sees the Shepherd showcase his musical dexterity in stunning fashion via cuts that wrap shimmering neo-classical strings around what sound like modular electronics and rhythms that variously touch on broken beat, off-kilter experimental D&B and Autechre-style IDM. Of course there are ambient and experimental soundscapes showcased, but it's the fact that the album contains a swathe of formidably dancefloor-focused cuts in the style that first made him standout that pleases us most. Highlights include recent single "LesAlpx", the dreamy "Anasickmodular" and the "People's Potential" style deep house intricacy of "Last Bloom".
Review: The jazz and broken beat revival continues apace as we race through 2019, so original pioneers of the sound are rightly coming back into focus. Enter the Brand New Heavies, one of the key acts of the mid-eighties who sound as good on this brand new album as ever. It's littered with funk-licked pop, crystalline acid jazz and singalong songs that range from tender ballads to soaring soul. Angie Stone, Beverley Knight and other vocalists lend their tones along the way, but importantly TBNH is not a revival or self-satisfied celebration. Instead, it feels like a forward-looking and accomplished album that takes the band in subtle new directions.
Amalouna (feat Noura Mint Seymali, Stephen O'Malley)
Taqkal Tarha (feat Micah Nelson)
Takount (feat Noura Mint Seymali)
Iklam Dglour (feat Warren Ellis & Rodophe Burger)
Kel Tinawen (feat Cass McCombs)
Itous Ohar (feat Cass McCombs)
Mhadjar Yassouf Idjan (feat Warren Ellis)
Wartilla (feat Warren Ellis & Stephen O'Malley)
Review: Malian musicians have a rich history when it comes to turning the world on to organic, mystifying, exotic sounds. A country that - even for Africa - stands out as a hotbed of aural talent, artists hailing from the desert nation never fail to immerse and intoxicate us. Here tracks grow and groove like a hypnotist at work, embracing Western influences, not least psychedelic rock, to produce what might have happened if Jim Morrison went walkabout in the Sahara looking for inspiration. As an album, "Amadjar" is everything that description might make you hope for. Opening on the delicate, spatial guitar plucks of "Tenere Maloulat", you can see the oasis shimmering in the distance through heat vapour. Evocative stuff, from there it only pulls us in deeper into an amalgamation of sounds overflowing with an adventurous atmosphere.
Review: Self-styled "minimal synth duo" Boy Harsher has released some fine music over the last few years, though little quite as on-point and majestic as 2018's "Country Girl" EP. Here they offer up a new-look "uncut" edition of the stylish set, which expands the original four-track set via a quartet of previously unreleased recordings from the same period. You'll find the original EP - complete with the throbbing but picturesque "Motion" and dreamy "Country Girl" - on side A, with the bonus material on the flip. Of these, we're particularly enjoying the gentle pulse of "Underwater", and the "Please" era Pet Shop Boys flex of "Send Me A Vision" and "Westerners".
Review: Few acts did more to champion the sound of "extreme noise" than Whitehouse between 1980 and 2009. They famously first set their stall out with debut album "Total Sex", a controversial set whose cover artwork fell foul of censorship due to its explicit content. That artwork has been restored on this first CD reissue since 1994. The music remains gloriously odd, out there and mind altering, offering a drowsy and trippy blend of unsettling electronics, barely audible vocals, hissing noise and modular synthesizer sounds so intense and druggy that they may well be capable of inducing freaky hallucinations. If you don't yet own a copy, grab one of these before they're gone.