Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: Last year, NYC based revivalist "gospel quartet" group the Harlem Gospel Travelers finally made their vinyl debut album after five years wowing audiences on the live circuit. 12 months later, they're finally ready to release their first full-length excursion. A nostalgic trip through 1950s and 1960s style gospel-based rhythms and blues, soul, funk and doo-wop, the album's greatest strength - aside from the authenticity of the music and production of course - is the group's incredible vocals. Brilliantly arranged harmonies play a big part, though the lead vocals (shared between all four members) are little less than stunning.
Review: Secretsundaze return with a second volume of their new mixtape series. After the success of the Joe Claussell tape they turn to Carista for another introspective mix aimed at a relaxed home-listening session.
In May 2018, Carista performed one of her first international gigs at Secretsundaze in London and went on to play 2 other shows for them that year. A year later, she has become a mainstay on the European club & festival circuit, playing to an ever growing, passionate and loyal fanbase week in week out, already playing shows that most DJs would only dream of, including closing a stage at Lowlands festival to an audience of 10000. No wonder a recent Mixmag article crowned her as "A DJ star in the making".
Her residencies on NTS and Red Light Radio showcase her love of house, boogie, broken beat, disco, funk and beyond. Her DJ gigs can also see her explore further into house and techno but this mixtape showcases a different, softer side of Carista blending ambient soundscapes, jazz, dub and soul as well as some poignant words from Nina Simone.
This is Carista's debut physical format release so don't sleep!
Review: Singer-songwriting wrapped up in the dusty acid wash denim of Americana doesn't really get more authentic than what Bill Callahan of Silver Spring, Maryland, can deliver. His latest LP, a mass saunter through 20 tracks of smokey spoken word and lightly sung lyrics, falls upon a picturesque bevvy of humble and acoustic instrumentation. Callahan's songs croon with romance, metaphor, and folky yarns that find their place among fingerpicked guitars and light melodies that enjoy a contrast with the darker musings of Callahan's own world of experience and storytelling. It presents the artist with his first studio in some five years, and a sound that is looser than a typical Bill Callahan missive but full of melodrama that centres around life and death. Our pick, Callahan's cover of the Carter Family's "Lonesome Valley".
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: 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: 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: When is a psychedelic rock album not a psychedelic rock album? Anyone who has quickly scrawled answer-on-postcard reads "when it's Temples" can go straight to the top of the class. Evidently you have been paying attention over the course of the British three piece's last two full length records. It's not that things don't sound pretty out there and trippy. All the elements to achieve that are here, but the accessibility is ramped up to the level of a pop album, with arrangements owing more to traditional song craft than anything particularly experimental. Don't read that as criticism, though. Tracks like "Not Quite The Same" are huge, proud, instantly catchy but far from obvious numbers. "You're Either On Something" thumps and lunges through its various permutations, "Atomise" pares everything back, luring us in, before opening up into a frantic, grunge-metal guitar line. We can only imagine the fun they had recording it.
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.
Review: Since defining the band's hybrid rock-rave sound with 1994's "Music For The Jilted Generation" and 1997's "The Fat of the Land", Prodigy main man Liam Howlett has largely stuck to his guns. He is, after all, incredibly good at what he does, and the formula has given us a string of bombastic, full-throttle singles and albums that have lasted the test of time. "No Tourists", Howlett and company's first full-length in three years, offers plenty of trademark festival-friendly workouts, hard-wired dancefloor smashers and fuzzy, all-action cuts. Judged on these terms, it's a triumph. Fans of the band's trademark brand of slamming sonic hedonism will love it.