Review: By the time you reach the muffled, eccentric opening bars of "Tenderness", just past halfway on "Anak Ko", Jay Som's remit is clear. The Los Angeles singer-songwriter has left her shoes, or rather shoegaze, behind. This time she's walking barefoot through a lo-fi musical tapestry, baring soles and heartbreak while musing on the importance of self-value. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the head-noddingly agreeable "Nighttime Drive" to the jerking, grunge-y "Peace Out", it's equal parts gorgeous and effortlessly- not to mention breathily- cool, sexy and surprising. Perhaps what's most reassuring, though, is that there's every chance this could all come across as affected and a little too self-aware. Nothing could be further from the truth from what we can hear- an honest work representing the next step in the evolution of a truly exciting American indie talent.
Review: With track titles such as "Death Up Close", "Something On Your Mind" and "Shuffling Stoned", it's not going to surprise anyone to learn that Shannon Lay's beautiful long form is a reflective, introverted and tender accomplishment. A place where acoustic guitars regularly lull us into dream-like states of consciousness, the fact you also get a truly stunning voice packing opiate qualities adds to the feeling of escaping into a fantasy. It's not all buttercups and rainbows, mind. And nor should it be. This, after all, is Lay, the guitarist from scuzz-loving LA garage punk quartet Feels, not to mention a solo artist whose last release arrived via a label someone set up especially for her. Those looking for grit will find themselves coming up short, as efforts like "November" prove, this one's vulnerable, thoughtful, heartfelt and comes with more than a wistful longing.
Review: Infamous Libertines and Babyshambles frontman Peter Doherty returns with his latest project, Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres, formed by members of Doherty's touring band from his 2016 "Eudaimonia" tour. He brings with him, of note, Jack Jones - also a member of Trampolene - who shares vocal duties and guitar collaboration with Doherty on the record. Expect a ragged, not entirely inharmonious, array of spangled guitars, boot-skootin' fiddles, broken down jazz and deconstructed mega blues. A good one for those smokey nights of Laphroaig when lamenting the ups & downs of one's life and times, all spent in an irreverent tone of UK punk and blues, or as the band call it: an intimate portrait of love, loss, being lost, happiness, tragedy, addiction and the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels
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: 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: Ty Segall, one of the leading lights and most hard-working artists of America's west coast garage scene, perfectly balances quality and quantity with 'Freedom's Goblin', his tenth studio album under his own name (include his live records, aliases and collaborations, and the total body of work effectively doubles). Having seemingly ditched the songwriting rules he had set himself on previous albums, 'Freedom's Goblin' sees Ty Segall at his most explosive and full-throttle, inventively exploring the many avenues of sub-genres of rock and psychedelia. Consisting of 19 ironclad songs that clock in at nearly eighty minutes, this is an expansive and exhilarating album that never becomes tiring. The wild combination of flawless production (co-engineered by the legendary Nirvana producer Steve Albini) and Segall's balance of raw power and melodic sensibility, makes 'Freedom's Goblin' another astoundingly high-calibre addition to an already colossal catalogue.