Tuesday, 26 February
Following a promising debut on the ever reliable DAIS imprint, ‘You’re Nothing’ is Danish youngsters Iceage’s shot at the big-time with new label Matador in tow. The record finds the Danes doing their best Black Flag impression, and while they manage to come out relatively unscathed, there’s a sense that some of the urgency we witnessed on their debut is lost here. Sure there’s a scathing, teeth-grinding and furious edge to these songs, but they all too often fall into US hardcore self parody somehow. When it hits, it hits hard for sure, but it’s hard not to miss the wild teeth-gnashing that’s been sidelined in the process.
Thursday, 21 February
Rocket Recordings follow up their mighty Gnod/$&$ split with the combined volumes of Gnod's 'Chaudelande' (sounds like Chod land, hehe) sessions. Six tracks frame Manchester's finest at the start of their 2011 European tour in the titular Normandy town, cutting between the psychepelvic churn and swagger of 'Tron' to the 'Visions of Load''s beardy motorik drive and the sprawling oriental centrepiece 'The Vertical Dead', channelling the best of Hawkwind, Psychic TV and late night Salford cityscapes. Our highlights have to be muscular, monotone repetition of 'Man on the Wire', the petrifying freeform ass… Read more
Another cracking addition to the Captured Tracks canon, this latest comes from New York dreamers Beach Fossils and is the band's most assured release to date. While it was kicked off as a solo venture for mainman Dustin Payseur, Beach Fossils quickly expanded into a full band as Payseur put together the self-titled debut and 'What A Pleasure' EP. 'Clash The Truth' comes to us now despite the studio being flooded and destroyed by hurricane Sandy, and it's been worth the upset. Blending an earnest 60s songwriting bent with the kind of lo-fi fundamentals that made the early 90s bearable, the… Read more
"Manner, Circle's 20th full-length of proper studio material, is a pivotal work in the ensemble's extensive canon. Originally released in spring 2012 by the U.S. heavies at Hydra Head, this limited edition LP is now available as a shiny, populist CD courtesy of bassist/founder Jussi Lehtisalo's Ektro label. But this latest effort isn't only a potential international breakthrough, it's also a daring step forward. Barrel-chested and proud, Manner vaguely resembles a Soviet tank parade choreographed to the cocky beat of American AOR and British art-pomp. Ideas first presented on the aforementioned Rautatie … Read more
Wednesday, 20 February
"Phil Jones has been subtly cutting his teeth under the name Dog Bite for years now. After self-releasing his sample-based psych-folk and sitting in the production chair for a few fellow Georgians, he was picked up for a single and an EP on Young Turks. Now, Jones puts forth his debut long-player, Velvet Changes on Carpark Records. Rather than working within the parameters of previous output, Velvet Changes sees Jones eschewing samples and expanding his palette to incorporate the dreamy aesthetics often associated with vintage 4AD bands like A.R. Kane or Cocteau Twins. From the moment opener … Read more
**Twee indie pop with studied post-punk inflections** "Glasgow's Golden Grrrls are Eilidh Rodgers, Ruari MacLean and Rachel Aggs. What began as bedroom guitar experimentation soon bloomed into a fully-formed pop language inspired by the 80s New Zealand and Australian indie pop scenes, DIY punk and Glasgow's own rich pop history (think The Vaselines, The Pastels). Drummer Eilidh Rodgers' inventive, loose-cannon drumming and lead vocals have framed MacLean's baritone from the beginning, with newest member Rachel Aggs (also of Trash Kit) bringing an effortless melodic sensibility on guitar and… Read more
Vini Reilly's seminal sophomore album, 'LC' frames Reilly at the beginning of an influential and celebrated career, recording at his home studio with new drummer Bruce Mitchell after parting ways with Martin Hannett, who produced his first album. The fidelity is therefore a little more rough-round-the-edges, but endearingly so, beautifully capturing the melancholic atmosphere on 4-track. A true classic.
Thursday, 14 February
Mystical Weapons is an improvised vehicle for Sean Lennon (Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof). Free to explore in any direction they fancy, the duo swiftly cover much ground, from the succinct, psychedelic ebullience of opener 'Impossible Shapes' and the brassy queerness of 'Mechanical Mammoth' or gamelan-like polyrhythms of 'Silk Screen Eyes' to more substantial episodes in the Silver Apples-like 'Whispers The Blue Tongue' and free-rock of 'Gross Domestic Bliss' sandwiching a ruck of concise vignettes such as the solo-piano piece 'Dirty' and the Moogy groover 'Colony Collapse Disorder'.
While some listeners may have preferred the band's early synthesizer experiments, it's nice to see New York survivors Psychic Ills keeping things moving at a time when most are happy to let the scene whizz past them. Since 2003 the band have really been able to do what they like, and whether that's collaborating with Gibby Haynes and Sonic Boom, or simply tracking an album of frazzled psychedelic pop music, it's never easy to tell what's gonna emerge. This time the band managed to rope in legendary dirt rock pioneer Neil Michael Hagerty, and the album pushes and pulls through the kind of dr… Read more
Australia's foremost prog-pop unit (f.k.a. Pivot) follow their Warp debut with the kinetic, bristling futurism of 'Homosapien'. Most notably, Richard Pike's vocals are pushed to the fore - while they used to colour the background, they're a central feature of the group's new sound, recalling Thom Yorke or Michael Hutchings in their yearning emotive impact, and with a semi-organic quality neatly suited to the group's humanist synthesizer motifs. We'd recommend checking for the Numan-esque cruiser 'Electric' or the moody, TVOTR-style groove of 'Cold Romance' and the ebullient sci-fi pop of 'Vertigo' for the best taste, and then go forth...
Wednesday, 13 February
**Moody indie jangles with well wrought post-punk influence** "The New Life is what happens when you reset everything back to zero and start again, but try to perfect. It starts back at zero the minute the needle hits the groove but we're also starting back from zero once the needle lifts at the end of the record. Ad infinitum. The New Life is what follows now.” The album’s title track, and the first single to be taken from the album, is an ideal entry point. Just shy of 8 minutes long, it rotates around a hypnotic bass line, and in Cully’s evocation of renaissance, offers a perfect metaphor f… Read more
Thursday, 07 February
Expanded double disc edition of Vini Reilly's seminal sophomore album, now supplemented by 23 bonus cuts drawn from rare singles, compilations and collaborations. 'LC' frames Reilly at the beginning of an influential and celebrated career, recording at his home studio with new drummer Bruce Mitchell after parting ways with Martin Hannett, who produced his first album. The fidelity is therefore a little more rough-round-the-edges, but endearingly so, beautifully capturing the melancholic atmosphere on 4-track. The original ten tracks feature alongside the rare Sordide Sentiment… Read more
**Sophisticated, vintage-sounding Japanese lounge and soul grooves** "Shintaro Sakamoto begins a new chapter in his storied career with the release of his debut solo album, the otherworldly folk pop masterpiece ‘How To Live With A Phantom’. For over two decades, Sakamoto was the frontman and leader of Japanese psychedelic phenomenon Yura Yura Teikoku. While the group only ever played a handful of shows outside of their homeland, they achieved cult status throughout the world and saw several albums reissued in limited pressings in the US, including the critically acclaimed ‘… Read more
Thursday, 31 January
"‘We The Common’ is the third full-length album from critically acclaimed artist Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. The album was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, The Walkmen, Explosions In The Sky) and features a duet with Joanna Newsom on the track ‘Kindness Be Conceived’."
Portland-via New Zealand might seem like quite a long way to go in search of the perfect sound, but it seems to have paid off for Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson. A gleefully psychedelic mix of early Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine with just enough West Coast transistor radio rock ‘n roll thrown in for good measure, Nielson has a sound few others are trawling right now, and it works in his favour. There’s nothing pretentious about these songs, and in a couple of minutes he manages to get more heart and soul across than most bands manage in an entire record. Maybe we’re just suckers… Read more
"Cheatahs present this compilation of their two 2012 EPs, previously only available separately on 12” and download, the set brings together the eight songs on CD for the first time. The sound recalls the glory days of Shoegaze (Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine, The Boo Radleys). Both EPs were recorded in London by Dean Reid, the band’s bassplayer, and mixed by Dean and the band."
*CD Version housed in a nice 6-Page-Digifile* "Third and most accessible album by Icelandic experimental pop miracle Sin Fang, recorded & produced by Alex Somers (Sigur Ros) Although there is a certain reassuring quality to evergreens - you can rely on them to never drop their foliage - it's the flowering plants, the ones that bud, blossom, and bloom, which really light up and even define a season. This is exactly what happens on Flowers, Sin Fang's third solo album: Seabear's founder and mastermind unlashes a melodic spring storm and explores even more corners of the lush and baroque gardens he spe… Read more
Monday, 28 January
Thursday, 24 January
Matthew Mondanile flies solo from his Real Estate duties on a right charming 4th album as Ducktails. With each successive record in this guise the fidelity increases accordingly. Now on his first for Domino - his highest profile to date - the production, songwriting, and all important vibes, are as sweet as you could hope for, aided to an extent by studio nous from Al Carlson (Oneohtrix Point Never, Peaking Lights) to happily strike into that golden spot on the AM band he's long aimed for. For some, the increase in fidelity may correlate with a lack of atmosphere or a certain integrity,… Read more
**Nice Danish pop music. Housed in die-cut slipcase with 10-page lyric booklet** "Coming to the attention of 4AD after a clutch of demo tracks went online early in 2012, Indians emerged in a fittingly understated manner and with ‘Somewhere Else’ have made both an assured and majestic debut album. From Copenhagen, Indians is all the work of one man, Søren Løkke Juul, who brought his band in to being when he felt the need to challenge himself and do something different. Not aiming for anything other than satisfying a creative urge, things have snowballed quickly for him ever since. Performing his … Read more
**Duo behind that beautiful Chris Isaak cover deliver a perfectly realised take on melancholic Americana** "Widowspeak is an American band comprised of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas, known for its dreamy, western-tinged take on rock and roll. Their self-titled debut was praised for its reverential spaciousness, Hamilton’s haunting voice, and Thomas’s sinister Morricone-esque guitar lines. On their second album, Almanac, the duo explores denser arrangements and new sonic territory, from Saharan rhythms to Appalachian-inspired melodies, all delivered with stoic, wistful restraint. Named after … Read more
"Debut solo album by Rick Redbeard of The Phantom Band. Eight years in the making, 'No Selfish Heart' is a warming, darkly poignant collection that navigates universal themes of love, place and the passage of time. Recorded at his parents' house in rural Aberdeenshire and the flat he calls home in the West End of Glasgow, 'No Selfish Heart' has an intimate, homely feel to it which only adds to the album's sense of timelessness. While the album evokes certain elements of Leonard Cohen, Bill Callahan and Bruce Springsteen, it also remains undeniably Scottish, harking back to the dark (often macabre) lovelorn tragedies of that country's folk tradition."
"Full length follow up to the Ancient Land EP from Jan 2011. For fans of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Woods, Kurt Vile. The Holydrug Couple have done a lot of growing since their first release with Sacred Bones Records in 2011. The “couple”, consisting of Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra recorded Noctuary in Santiago, Chile. They put together a home studio and recorded the entire album themselves, from start to finish. Feeling that no one else had been able to capture their sound, Ives decided to take a risk and produce and engineer the album on his own. After four months of obsessively worki… Read more
"Full length follow up to the eponymous EP from Jan.2011. For fans of Moon Duo, Psychic Ills, Silver Apples. Föllakzoid began in Santiago, Chile from what they describe as the result of, “a product of a trance experience between friends, sort of a soul abduction in which they’ve been living since 2008.” The band is made up of multi-faceted artists: Juan Pablo (bass, vocals) is a producer of the Sangre Fresca Music Festival in Santiago, Diego (drums) is a photograher, Alfredo (synth) is an architect, and Domingo (guitar) is also a filmmaker who just premiered his first feature length movie “Partir to Live… Read more
Thursday, 17 January
Tortoise's Douglas McCombs pays homage to Ennio Morricone and Roy Orbison in his timeless style with the latest LP in his long-dormant Brokeback guise. "Brokeback and the Black Rock has the sound of a band playing. The arrangements were sweated over during the year and a half prior to recording, so the challenge was to capture convincing performances of the songs. McEntire has done a great job recording the band. The bass and drums sound natural and full. The guitars are clear and ringing with just the right growl. Oh, and this band likes reverb. There are moments that recall the… Read more
The master of evocative shoegaze-tronica presents his first solo LP in six years, and some ten years after his widely cherished 'A Strangely Isolated Place' LP for City Centre Offices. In case you've not kept an eye on Ulrich in recent years; he's kept himself busy with a string of collaborations alongside the likes of Kirsty Hawkshaw, Jonas Munk, and ASC, and it's perhaps the latter, and the autonomic D&B scene at large, who've had most influence on the whirring technoid rhythms and structures of 'A Long Way To Fall'. Of course, he's still a very sentimental bugger at heart, wearing… Read more
"It is a well-worn joke in rock circles, "they are big in Japan." Rather than spending their time searching for fame, Baltimore’s Arbouretum has instead concentrated on honing their craft. It just so happens that the muse that guides them is completely outside of current rock trends. Like Richard Thompson’s work from the mid-70s, the band’s poetic lyrics and slow, heavy build are not stuff of the quick fix. Their music stands in stark contrast to a culture that is more about video and track placement than criticism and discourse. As such, it should come as no surprise that they have fo… Read more
Prolific art-pop shapeshifter Ergo Phizmiz follows a split record with R. Stevie Moore and his experiments in "multi-media opera" with this jaunty oddity for Care In The Community - also home to issues by Scritti Politti, Gary War. Equal parts Canterbury rock, outsider indie and electronic whimsy with a certified dose of psychedelia, his 'Eleven Songs' clearly recall Syd Barrett's visions of a lysergic Albion or the odd-pop of Cleaners From Venus with an uncanny way of expressing those strange, rainy-but-sunny day emotions and a sort of wistful, witty pastoralism.
Thursday, 10 January
Around since the mid-80s, Yo La Tengo have been a constant on the indie horizon, working within their own framework and transcending scenes and trends with the greatest of ease. 'Fade' teams the band up with Tortoise's John McEntire who takes their hazy psychedelic pop to new levels with his economic production techniques. Not that this is a new direction from Yo La Tengo, but 'Fade' sounds more pointed than they have for a while, with jangly guitars soaring over dusty drums (McEntire's speciality) and just a smart hint of the kind of avant gardisms the band made their calling card. Sure they make pop… Read more