Album Review: Gil Scott-Heron – Nothing New

gil2

As what would have been Gil Scott-Heron’s 65th birthday this past April 1st, Record Store Day is gifted with a magical posthumous release by the legend. Widely considered as a hugely influential figure in hip-hop and jazz, his unique style of spoken word poetry garnered worldwide acclaim. After a huge back-catalogue of 13 albums from […]

Album Review: Cleft – Bosh!

bosh

Cleft are a turbo-prog two-piece (or that’s how they describe themselves) from grey Manchester bringing huge repercussions to the British experimental music scene. In the last few years there has been a growing instrumental scene in the UK, with a relevant number of bands supporting it such as That Fucking Tank or The Physics House […]

Album Review: EMA – The Future’s Void

c3846ff5

Nearly a year ago now I reviewed Little Boot’s most recent album: a spirited but ultimately doomed effort to try and provide music that has a pop sensibility with a dark, brooding electronic edge. The results were… mixed, to say the least, resulting in something far more latter-day Kylie than Kid A. However, flawed though […]

Album Review: The Voluntary Butler Scheme – A Million Ways to Make Gold

VBS_AMillionWays_Artwork

Ever since Rob Jones, under the moniker of his primary creative outlet The Voluntary Butler Scheme, released his 2009 début ‘At Breakfast, Dinner And Tea’, the market for quirky, catchy one-man-bands has been pretty much cornered. Demonstrating what would become the multi-instrumentalist’s typical eye for detail and knack for a catchy brass hook, ‘At Breakfast…’ […]

Album Review: The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

1897822_10152785160906777_1513369919_n

I love how Brooklyn’s The Hold Steady can be enjoyed on different levels. Essentially a party band, the live shows feel like gatherings of like-minded people in attendance to drink some beers and share a love of rock. There’s a real sense of community. Look deeper, though, and listeners can quickly lose themselves in the […]

Album Review: The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

41f440f9

It’s worth starting this review by quoting a fairly lengthy passage from the press release: “Lost In The Dream is the third album by The War on Drugs, but in some ways, it is the first album by the Philadelphia band The War on Drugs. Ahead of and after the release of the 2011 breakthrough Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel spent the bulk of two […]

Album Review: Metronomy – Love Letters

a9163ed7

It is a seldom seen occurrence when a band – over a period as long as the best part of a decade – achieves the critics’ holy grail that is a steady progression to mainstream success without sacrificing what was originally considered their original, signature sound. Even more of a surprise is when – somewhat […]

Album Review: Real Estate – Atlas

d9f36f89

There’s something bizarrely unfathomable about Real Estate, and third album Atlas especially. There’s nothing overwhelmingly striking about their sound, we have a classic jangly guitar dynamic, eschewing any Zeitgeist leap towards electronica. There’s a distinct lack of choruses, at least in the traditional sense of reaching a musical, emotional, vocal pinnacle. Previous album Days‘ carefree languidness […]

Album Review: Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Wild-Beasts-Present-Tense

The beasts are back and the beasts are burdened. Charged with following up the success of their previous three long players – Limbo, Panto, Two Dancers and Smoother – the Leeds based indie-electronic four-piece are back with their latest – Present Tense. Is there a pun to be found in that title… is it ‘present, […]

Album Review: Mark Morriss – A Flash of Darkness

Mark-Morriss-album-LP-cover-artwork

“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I threw a lot of irons into the fire”. Since the break-up of the Bluetones in 2011, a band with an enviable career span that largely managed to avoid the Britpop roll call of the 90s, front man Mark Morriss has been […]

Album Review: Nina Persson – Animal Heart

LJX070_800

The return of the delightful singing voice of Nina Persson, this time on her first solo album, is accompanied, certainly as far as this reviewer is concerned, by a strong feeling of eager anticipation. As the singer and lyricist of the Cardigans, Nina has an impressive record of musical achievements. With that occasionally slightly husky […]

Album Review: Breton – War Room Stories

War Room Stories

At the moment, the DIY ethic that is so essential for exciting new bands is as abundant in the underground music scene as it ever was. With the likes of Manchester band PINS and Leeds groups Menace Beach and Department M – amongst others – all creating their own merchandise, cultivating their own distinct image […]

Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Live From KCRW

NickCave_LiveFromKCRW_Packshot_RGB

Live albums are an acquired taste. What you usually get is a collection of your favourite songs jumbled together and performed inferiorly to their originals. Furthermore, a live album isn’t live per say, you have to be there for it to be live, and if you’re not it’s a bit like reading a live review […]

Album Review: Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength

Eric Clapton Give Me Strength Packshot

With the expensive Italian suits, perfectly trimmed beard and collection of exotic girlfriends (and even more exotic cars), it’s perhaps easy to fall into a trap, forgetting that Clapton was once one extremely cool bluesman.  As the graffiti put it: ‘Clapton is God’.  For a while it seemed the celestial one had indeed returned, and […]

Album Review: Midlake – Antiphon

Antiphon

Having started in 1999 and already been through a roster of line up changes, Antiphon is the fourth album from Midlake. Arguably with the most important line up change to date, this album is the first without frontman Tim Smith. Unlike many bands who lose a front man, Midlake have not broken up and fallen […]

Album Review: Connan Mockasin – Caramel

ConnanMockasin-CaramelPackshot.115814

The first thing I heard about New Zealand’s Connan Mockasin was the fact that he listened to  his own music exclusively, the one exception from this habit being a Metronomy single given to him by his manager. This was then listened to at the wrong speed for a prolonged period of time due to the fact […]

Album Review: The Wave Pictures – City Forgiveness

City_Forgiveness

The infamous double album…there are not many other things in the music industry that tend to be so hit and miss. They normally come about after an extra special spark in creativity or are written in tribute to something close to the band. The Wave Pictures 5th long player is a mixture of both. Whilst […]

Album Review: Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – Repent, Replenish, Repeat

Dan Le Sac

For those of you who don’t know, Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip (or dlsvsSP, as I will incorrectly refer to them) are a pair of lads from Essex, who collaborate to make some form of urban. The ignorance at the end of the last sentence is only partly feigned, though there is enough spoken […]

Album Review: Anna Calvi – One Breath

Anna Calvi

I recall a pub conversation with a friend at Christmas time. I believe the year was 2011, and we were each naming our favourite gig of the year and attempting to explain what it was that we liked so much about it. I think I used the words “hands down” in declaring that Calvi’s gig […]

Album Review: Haim – Days Are Gone

HAIM-DAYS-ARE-GONE

The three Californian sisters that seem to be everywhere right now have finally dropped their long awaited debut album Days Are Gone. They already have a string of hit singles, massive tours and a Glastonbury main stage set under their belt, and since their debut three-track EP, Forever, Haim has been the word on everyone’s […]

Album Review: Cuushe – Butterfly Case

Cuushe

For a pianist to adopt a chillwave sound for her sophomore album, a form of music often associated with amateur bedroom musicians, would seem like a dumbed-down shot at accessibility, and ultimately this album follows that lead, with sprinklings of beautiful musicianship along the way, just increasing the frustration of what could have been. To put […]

LIVE: SAMARIS – 24/09/2013

samaris-1

- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – After walking in Gorilla to find Samaris’ lead singer of just nineteen rushing through her homework, it was hard not to expect an uptight performance tonight, mirroring the Icelandic band’s young age, with the three-piece barely touching twenty. However, clarinet player, Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir, explained to me after the gig, how the […]

Album Review: Au Revoir Simone – Move In Spectrums

Au_Revoir_Simone_Move_in_Spectrums

Generally in the music press, writers love the idea of ‘genre’. The desire to pigeonhole and categorise artists is an instinctive one: it give us the ability to compare and contrast similar artists, which in turn allow us to grade them based on their individual merit. However as we plough ever further into the 21st […]

Album Review: Mark Lanegan – Imitations

Mark-Lanegan-Imitations-608x608

Mark Lanegan has never been busier, but the abundance of projects he has taken on over the last two years hasn’t diluted the downtrodden intensity of his work. If anything, his identity as a musician has flourished, and despite much of his work being collaborative he still manages to make his presence felt alongside equally […]

Album Review: Nightmares on Wax – Feelin’ Good

1375981891_feeling-good

A great artist releasing an album is always a good thing, but when new material comes at a machine-gun pace (hello Ryan Adams), it can sometimes detract from your relationship with their art. Listeners need time to acquaint themselves with an album, to let their perception of and relationship with the tracks evolve. Some days […]

Album Review: The Strypes – Snapshot

TheStrypes2

The debut album from The Strypes, Snapshot, is a fast paced nod to the 60s rhythm and blues era. The preceding EP, Young, Gifted and Blue, came out in 2012 causing quite a stir. The timing of this record couldn’t be better, with the rise of stars such as Jake Bugg, the reemergence of The […]

Album Review: Lanterns on the Lake – Until The Colours Run

Until-The-Colours-Run_Lanterns-On-The-Lake

Lanterns On The Lake is a five-piece band hailing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Consisting of Hazel Wilde, Paul Gregory, Ol Ketteringham, Sarah Kemp and Andrew Scrogham, they have had a successful debut album and are now signed to Bella Union. They have performed at numerous music festivals, including Glastonbury, SXSW and Bestival and even toured with Explosions […]

ALBUM REVIEW: SNIPPET – DIY

Snippet DIY

Reviewed by: Nat Lyon. Johnno Casson is Snippet.   And Snippet is a DIY project band that creates lush sounding productions in a mythical garden shed somewhere in Colchester.  In that magic garden shed, Casson builds and shreds a number of different personalities.  He also writes and self-records arrangements that match the complexity of the characters […]

Album Review: Money – The Shadow of Heaven

rsz_money_-_the_shadow_of_heaven_album_artwork

Money, The Shadow of Heaven, wealth and religion, the twin asteroids of humanity’s destruction, grand topics for an equally grand album. When you listen to this debut from the Manchester 4-piece it certainly seems that they are looking to encompass the city, the earth and stars and everything inbetween. Money mainman, Jamie Lee, expands in […]

Album Review: Drenge – Drenge

drengealbum

When asked to think of Derbyshire, you may conjure up images of coal mines, the luxurious home of Jane Austen’s swoon-inducing Mr. Darcy and now angsty, two-man blues/rock duos who make The Black Keys sound dangerously close to irrelevant, plodding dad-rock. Indeed, Derbyshire’s latest export, Drenge – formed by the aptly named brothers Eion and […]

Album Review: Out Cold – Invasion of Love

Out Cold

Out Cold is a side project of Simon Aldred, the frontman of Cherry Ghost. Aldred’s work with the Bolton band, such as on minor hits ‘Mathematics’ and ‘4am’, has an organic sound with a widescreen feel, and Aldred’s warm, northern vocals might easily be capable of bringing comfort to any homesick Lancastrian. With Out Cold, […]

ALBUM REVIEW: TY SEGALL – SLEEPER

sleeper

As they do, musicians will wander off their path of what we’re used to and surprise us with something that separates itself distinctly from the rest. Like a sore thumb, Ty Segall’s latest album Sleeper stands out as something completely out of his realm. Differentiating itself from the likes of last year’s thrash-and-roll efforts Slaughterhouse, Twins and Hair with Cali pals […]

Album Review: Washed Out – Paracosm

Print

In 2013, it’s easier than ever before to find new music. The advent of Spotify and the omnipresence of the Internet as a whole means that any new artist can record something with a reasonable degree of competency, and instantly expose it to millions of people with the click of a mouse. Despite the recent […]

Album Review: Crocodiles – Crimes of Passion

CRIMES_SAMP_STICK_72

With summer almost over, it’s a shame the new Crocodiles album Crimes of Passion has arrived in August as it would have provided the perfect soundtrack to soak up those boozy afternoon sessions in the park. Formed after their previous punk bands had split, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell decided to continue on their musical […]

Album Review: Laura Veirs – Warp and Weft

WarpandWeft

With her last album comprising a collection of songs for children and having recently given birth to her second son, it would be an easy assumption that Laura Veirs’ latest material is characterised by more insular themes. However, this is hardly the case at all. After the lofty, scientific subject matter and metaphors of Carbon […]

Album Review: Mayors of Miyazaki – Holy Cop

mayors

In the opening 30 seconds of Holy Cop, I relate the sound of Mayors of Miyazaki to At the Drive In, Biffy Clyro (Puzzle) and Coheed & Cambria, but vocally they are very much apart from all of the above. To pull one from left field, Holy Cop is like a super-tight, atonal, staccato version […]

Album Review: Alunageorge – Body Music

aluna

The eagerly awaited debut album Body Music by AlunaGeorge (aka Aluna Francis and producer George Reid) is a collection of smooth tones, dance basslines and sweet vocals. Despite this being their first LP they have already been around for over a year gracing every ‘ones to watch list’ of 2012 and touring throughout Europe. The […]

Album Review: Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy

gogol

In the off chance that you haven’t heard of Gogol Bordello, I’ll let this one slide. For almost fifteen years, this eight-piece NYC gypsy punk outfit have blended a range of global influences, mainly circling around Eastern European and Latin music, into one big “clusterpunk” of hustling and bustling ethnic sound. With an orchestra of members […]

ALBUM REVIEW: THE VOLTAIRES – THE VOLTAIRES

The Voltaires

Putting this CD on the stereo and hitting play is like pressing “open” on an automatic garage door clicker, the metal grill peeling back to reveal The Voltaires within, thrashing out the abrasive, snapping garage rock that forms their debut album. This is not any garage. The Voltaires’ magic garage might be located anywhere from […]

Album Review: Eat Lights, Become Lights – Modular Living

Eat Lights

Modular Living is the latest album from Eat Lights, Become Lights. This London four-piece have been going strong since they started attacking people’s senses in 2007. They are certainly an interesting band. Writer, performer and engineer Neil Rudd  formed ELBL from his love of German avant rock and 70s electronica that in turn create this sound […]

Album Review: Teardrop Explodes – Wilder (Deluxe Edition)

the_teardrop_explodes-wilder(1)

Minus context it would be easy to assume that Wilder was released during the mid to late 80s, the natural conclusion to the decade’s luminaries The Smiths, The Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash and Talking Heads. The Teardrop Explodes – a most memorable band name – explodes with ideas. It’s an endlessly meticulously crafted, varied […]

Album Review: Tunng – Turbines

Tunng-Turbines-artwork

This is a band that is producing music of a genre that is gaining a lot of success at the moment, and they are doing it to the highest quality. Ten years in and now on their fifth studio album, Tunng have created a warm, flowing journey on Turbines. Founding member Mike Lindsey has described this […]

Album Review: Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture

DPU-Nature-Nurture

Leeds rockers Dinosaur Pile-Up are back with newbie Nature Nurture, which aims to rock your socks and Y-fronts off. After a number of lineup changes, singer/guitarist and bandleader Matt Bigland has settled on drummer Mike Shiels and James Sacha as the bassist to help him continue on his merry way. I remember these guys getting […]

Album Review: Tribes – Wish To Scream

Tribes

Tribes are a relatively new band, forming only in 2010 in Camden, London. They released their first EP in 2011, first album in 2012, and their second album Wish to Scream in 2013.  The band plan on releasing a new record every year, and despite their constantly hectic touring schedules and the fact this album […]

Album Review: Trigger Effect – What’s Left To Eliminate?

pochette-de-lalbum-whats-left-to-eliminate

What’s Left To Eliminate? is the fourth studio album from Montreal Punk/Rock/Metal band Trigger Effect. They have already toured as an opening act for Iron Maiden, Queensryche and Rob Halford. This album doesn’t just start, it lurches into a loud, violent, attack from the very start that doesn’t stop until they are finished. Every track flows into the next in […]

Album Review: Little Boots – Nocturnes

little boots nocturnes

You know that feeling that only arises as a result of watching Eurovision? That nauseous glee that accompanies a man from Belarus singing like he’s got a pineapple in his colon; or the haughty guffaw at a trio of leather-clad Moldovans babbling over some mimed sub-Rihanna dance-pop. This, combined with the schadenfreude developed as a […]

Album Review: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Print

Early reports of The National’s long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s acclaimed High Violet talk of new directions, fresh diversions. Indeed, singer Matt Berninger himself talks of these songs as more “immediate and visceral” than those of previous albums. I have to say, I don’t see it, nor I do it hear it. For me, the songs that start […]

Album Review: Just Handshakes – Say It

just-handshakes-550x550

The Leeds-based quartet Just Handshakes formed at university over a shared love of the C86 music scene. After a series of low-key singles and DIY cassette releases, which have finely honed their sound, they have now, via the Californian based label Bleeding Gold, delivered their debut album, Say It, which sees them drop a little […]

Album Review: Cloud Boat – Book of Hours

1847

Book of Hours is the debut LP from Cloud Boat. This London based duo already has quite the buzz building up around them and their forthcoming release. If you are a fan of The XX, Bon Iver, James Blake, Zero 7, Alt-J or any other group that emulate pure magic on record, then read on. This […]

Album Review: Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood – Black Pudding

black_pudding1

Some musicians have forged such an enduring image and reputation that they have somehow achieved an untouchable, passé-proof status. Possessing their albums garners you untold points in the taste stakes, whether you’re looking for them or not. Mark Lanegan is one such artist – an enduring figure across respected genres, like a Machiavellian prince adapting to the […]

Album Review: Hunter Valentine – Collide and Conquer

tumblr_m9wbhgHoyA1qdhlj6o1_1280

Hunter Valentine are a three-piece female rock band with catchy songs and a lot of attitude. Setting the bar for other girl bands, they hail from Canada, but more recently have been taking the NYC scene by storm. Now on the leg of their European tour, the band present us with their second album, Collide […]

Album Review: Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds – Haunted Head

kidcongo_hauntedhead_print

After well-known spells in respected bands such as The Gun Club, The Cramps and Nick Cave’s The Bad Seeds, American singer/guitarist Brian Tristan looks set to continue his solo adventure under the guise of Kid Congo Powers. Backed by his band The Pink Monkey Birds, the group are set to release their third album, Haunted Head, […]

Album Review: Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

vampire-weekend-fonts

Alarms bells rang the moment I read Ezra Koenig’s interview in the NME a few months back. “People tried to pretend we were rich idiots ripping off African music”, he said defensively. But such statements belie the truth, that the revulsion Vampire Weekend inspires from certain people is getting to them. I was shocked to […]

Album Review: Mikal Cronin – MCII

475_mikalcronin_900px

For those who closely follow the fuzzy haze of the lo-fi scene, Mikal Cronin is no stranger. Having collaborated with garage rock god Ty Segall over the past decade, our eyes have spiraled as the pinching hum of the sixties revival generation has been taken over by the likes of these two Californian musicians. Already labeling itself as […]

Album Review: Small Black – Limits of Desire

umojacketv1

Ah Brooklyn, that supposed musical paradise in a land far away. I am always a bit sceptical when checking out any hyped band from The Big Apple. I admit that there must be something in the water there that helps produce incredible music, however you also seem to get your fair share of shite that […]

ALBUM REVIEW: SAVAGES – SILENCE YOURSELF

savages

The return of punk and riots seemed inevitable when this government took over. Calmly listening to acoustic folk and uplifting indie while being financially squeezed and in constant fear of redundancy, simply doesn’t tally. If you still receive as much as £10 working tax credits per month, you should seriously consider spending it on this […]

Album Review: Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (Remastered and Boxed Vinyl Edition)

nick-drake-bryter-later

John Martyn laughed when Nick Drake died, that was the first thought that came to mind when I read about the reissue and mastering of Drake’s sophomore album Bryter Layter. It was something for which his wife never forgave him. 18 months before Drake died of an overdose of antidepressants, Martyn released the acclaimed album, […]

Album Review: Crystal Fighters – Cave Rave

Crystal-Fighters-x-Paul-Laffoley-Artwork-Premiere_Feb.

If you have been searching high and low for what your summer album could be, look no further; Cave Rave (out May 27th) is the new album from Crystal Fighters and it is a magical, summer anthem record. Their first album, Star of Love, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and they have taken […]

Album Review: Junip – Junip

Junip-st-608x608

In a musical environment where ‘new bands re-doing something already established, but really well’ is the norm (think recent big-names Peace, Palma Violets and the fantastic Savages), Junip are something of an anomaly. Their debut album Fields exhibited an unusual blend of mellow classical guitar, accompanied by well-timed drums and sweeping synths, combining to create […]

Album Review: Mudhoney – Vanishing Point

Mudhoney

9 albums and 25 years later, Mudhoney provide an album of psychedelic alternative rock that keeps them at the pinnacle of “that sound”! Usually lumped in with grunge, Mudhoney were always a little bit more and this album shows why. From the opening scatter drums, bass driven, riff monster that is ‘Slipping Away’ the gentlemen […]

Album Review: Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost

Iron

Wow!!! On a beautiful day with a chilled glass of whatever your tipple is, Iron and Wine have provided the perfect soundtrack to this summer and summers to come. This album is steeped in sublime folk with a pop feel; yeah it’s the most radio friendly album that Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) has done, […]

Album Review: Peace – In Love

peace-in-love

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past six months (a particularly deep cave, underwater, on Neptune, with a wi-fi connection that even Virgin trains would condemn as “poor”) then chances are you will have heard at least something about Birmingham based quartet Peace. The hype that’s followed this band is bordering on […]

ALBUM REVIEW: UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS – MIND CONTROL

Mind-Control

The previous long player from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Blood Lust, became something of a cult classic almost overnight on its release, partly due to the very limited vinyl version (only 400 copies) that had vinyl junkies foaming at the mouth. Linking that exclusivity with gorgeous artwork and packaging resembling the giallo genre of […]

Album Review: Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

OLE-998 Kurt Vile-Walkin On A Pretty Daze

Smoke Ring For My Halo was my favourite album of 2011, and though, in retrospect it’s now eclipsed by M83′s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and Slave Ambient by former bandmates the excellently named The War on Drugs, it remains an album I return to from time to time with real relish. What I like most […]

Album Review: Vondelpark – Seabed

vondelpark_seabed_inlay_3_NOPRINT

I took the review for Vondelpark’s Seabed on a bit of a whim – I know nothing about the band; I just know that Vondelpark is also an expansive public open space in Amsterdam*. I spent this morning listening to Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones and Seabed is something […]

Album Review: James Blake – Overgrown

James Blake Overgrown

Following the critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, James Blake is back with Overgrown. An undeniable buzz surrounds this release. Blake himself has been teasing his fans, releasing previews and giving away free digital downloads of ‘Digital Lion’ creating an excitement that should surround release dates. Overgrown has more of a soulful tone than Blake’s debut […]

Album Review: Bleached – Ride Your Heart

bleached

Jennifer and Jessica Clavin are the two sisters that together make up Bleached. Hailing from LA, and with the help of drummer Jonathan Safley, the trio release their 12 track debut record, Ride Your Heart, on Dead Oceans label. A fast-paced, all-American album, this brings to mind the LA punk-rock scene of the 80s with tones […]

Album Review: The Flaming Lips – The Terror

Basic RGB

As a writer of sorts, I use the advice of others when writing. One quote which I come back to again and again is from George Orwell and it is, ‘If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.’ And for me I find that this helps me produce more accurate and […]

Album Review: The Shook-Ups! – Bad Reception

shookups

Let us forget about the deplorable strip that is King Street, and perhaps the amplified success of The Verve, to wipe our slates clean for Wigan’s next honourable mention – The Shook-Ups, a band whose repertoire includes past/present members of Moco, The Stags, Doktor Combover and The V.Cs. 1960s garage rock is back and, I’ll […]

Album Review: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

PSB

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when this début album from Public Service Broadcasting popped into my inbox recently. Frustratingly, it turns out that I missed them playing in Bolton by a week or so (review here), and I’m certain that the added live audio visual dimension would’ve enhanced my feelings towards it. From the couple […]

Album Review: Port St. Willow – Holiday

Port

Port St. Willow is the poetically named brainchild of Nicholas Principe, a solo multi-instrumentalist working out of Portland, Oregon. He released his first EP, entitled Even // Wasteland in November 2010. It was a record that, albeit only an EP, carried and conveyed the ambition that we would come to expect from Holiday. This is […]

Album Review: Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

3coldwarkids

American Indie also-rans Cold War Kids have been knocking around for a while now; long enough for them to be considered veterans by any rate. 8 years have passed since they first emerged onto the scene with their spiky yet soulful début EP Mulberry Street, in which time they’ve… well, they’ve continued doing just that: putting out […]

Album Review: Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs

DiamondRugsBandpPic1

Match a group of dudes from different bands who each hone gritty vocals and a love of beer with borderline vulgarity in lyrical ascension, and you may just have yourself a trailer park indie super group. Diamond Rugs is the newest blue collared engaging side-project between John McCauley (Deer Tick), Robbie Crowell (Deer Tick), Ian […]

Album Review: Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In

caitlinrose-thestandin-hire

Anybody that fell for 2010’s ‘Own Side Now’, the first full-length from Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose, will be aware that sheer force of personality was the key ingredient that separated her from the countless other country-tinged starlets vying for your attention. And it wasn’t confined to her live shows – the ten tracks on that […]

Album Review: Kavinsky – OutRun

kavinsky

The end is so often embedded in the beginning – so it is with Kavinsky. Clocking up 30 million views on Youtube thus far due to the song’s Drive cameo, ‘Nightcall’ has propelled this French 80s cinematic throwback act into a very modern overnight sensation (a cross between the Terminator and Beverly Hills Cop soundtracks […]

Album Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

Push-The-Sky-Away-PACKSHOT1-768x768

There is famously a darkness to everything Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds create. Sometimes it’s glaring, violent, in your face darkness, like the bubbling anger and mystery of ‘Red Right Hand’, or the title of their ninth album ‘Murder Ballads’. Even Bad Seeds songs that seem harmless enough on the surface always have something […]

Album Review: Veronica Falls – Waiting For Something To Happen

Veronica Falls - WFSTH (720px)

In the week that My Bloody Valentine have crashed back into the collective musical conversation, it’s particularly intriguing to listen to the sort of new record that Veronica Falls have created. Where the Valentines use their endless list of hip references to find some new path forward of their own making, Veronica Falls are more […]

Album Review: Fionn Regan – The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo

Fionn Regan_Bunkhouse packshot

There’s a belief amongst some musicians, that more – not less – is more. The more singers, instruments, harmonies, the better. But Fionn Regan’s latest record, The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo, proves that music served raw can be equally powerful. Armed with just a guitar, voice, microphone and a 4 track recorder, this […]

Album Review: Speck Mountain – Badwater

Badwater-1024x1024

There are certain bands that demand attention, whether good or bad, whilst others (which personally I much prefer) draw you in gradually and seep under your skin. Speck Mountain are very much the latter and their melodic, dreamy soundscapes have been critically lauded over their previous two albums, Summer Above and Some Sweet Relief. The band centres around […]

ALBUM: MASAYOSHI FUJITA – STORIES

Masayoshi Fujita Stories

There’s something about winter – gazing at blankets of cold, soft snow – that invites introspection. Maybe it’s the human urge to hibernate, or perhaps its nature imposing on the 9-5 bustle that makes us stop and become happily enveloped in the wider picture. Nothing goes together quite so well as reflection and music – […]

ALBUM: YO LA TENGO – FADE

Yo-La-Tengo-Fade

‘Fade’ is the 13th studio album to be released by Yo La Tengo since they formed in 1984. Hailing from America this three-piece band has worked on a multitude of projects, from charity singles, to soundtracks, to covers for compilation albums. Originally started by husband and wife duo Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, the band […]

Album Review: Ólöf Arnalds – Sudden Elevation

löf Arnalds - Sudden Elevation - Artwork

Sudden Elevation may be Icelander Ólöf Arnalds’ third album, but it remains a landmark, being her first sung wholly in English. For this I’m awkwardly grateful as reviewing it is my first encounter with her otherworldly brand of folk. However, as a latecomer I find myself trailing behind an influential admirer of Arnalds who has already hit […]

Album Review: Nils Bech – Look Inside

Nils Bech

Look Inside is the second album from Norwegian artist Nils Bech. His first critically acclaimed album Look Back, released in 2010, catapulted him onto the world stage. His music is indefinable by any one genre. It is the coming together of art, performance and music, giving birth to the hauntingly beautiful, concept that Nils Bech […]

Album Review: Sekou Kouyate and Joe Driscoll – FAYA

426502_366843706679257_1895710446_n

Sekou Kouyate and Joe Driscoll present us with their first collaborative album, Faya, a collection of songs, which span genres from around the world. Communicating through music they have produced an album, which incorporates Kouyate’s sounds of Africa and Driscoll’s eclectic mix of New York bedroom-music styles. It’s an easy-listening reggae-funky-hiphop-afrobeat-rap-rock cocktail that’s refreshing and […]

Album Review: Cody ChesnuTT – Landing On A Hundred

Cody-Chesnutt-Landing-On-A-Hundred-608x608

Soul singer and funk guitarist Cody Chesnutt is back with his second album, a decade and a few EPs separating them both. Landing On A Hundred is a neo-soul and funk album with all the musical flex of a 70s classic. The sound he’s gone for is BIG in every sense –with bold melodies, a […]

Album Review: The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary

Velvet

It’s not for nothing that Rolling Stone magazine named The Velvet Underground & Nico the most prophetic album of all time. If the hippies hoped that universal fraternity, peace and love would be the basis for some teleological, utopian future, it is Lou Reed’s vision that – however unhappily – dominates contemporary society. 60s counter […]

Album Review: Tamaryn – Tender New Signs

Tamaryn-Tender-New-Signs-608x608

American dream-pop, shoegaze combo Tamaryn are named after New Zealand-born Tamaryn, who provides soft girlish vocals, and guitarist Rex John Shelverton (Vue, Portraits of Past), who does the instrumentation and plays the role of producer. Tender New Signs is the follow up to their first full length album, The Waves, and in making this album […]

Album Review: Ty Segall – Twins

Ty-Segall

Psych rock maverick Ty Segall is a man in a hurry. Not content with releasing two excellent albums already this year, namely the collaboration with White Fence’s Tim Presley, Hair, and Slaughterhouse, coming under the Ty Segall Band ‘nom de plume’, we now find ourselves with a third, Twins, which is officially a follow up […]

Album Review: Errors – New Relics

errors_ne_grande

As someone who loves music, but isn’t a musician, I often wonder what inspires musicians to make music, and what they aim to achieve from making it. Errors always seem ambitious, yet understated, making music that sounds vast and sprawling, but with meticulous attention to detail. As a dance music fan, I love the range […]

ALBUM REVIEW: TOY – ‘TOY’

Toy

Googling Toy was a fruitless task at the start of the year. There was a certain buzz around the band after a successful support slot with The Horrors, but internet presence was otherwise non-existent. Their headline tour in spring attracted many curious enthusiasts who had their ear to the ground, and they were very much rewarded […]

Album Review: DJ Shadow – Reconstructed: The Best of DJ Shadow

41qJjdPv0wL._SS500_

He sounds like a dark superhero nemesis haunting the alleys and sidewalks of some fictional North American future city. Or perhaps the murky pools that lie within the darker recesses of our psyches. In fact, he is Josh Davis, ironically from the Northern Californian town of… Davis, and for the last 20 years he has […]

ALBUM: CAT POWER – ‘SUN’

CatPower620

It has taken 3 years for ‘Chan’ Marshall to write, produce and play all that you hear on this new Cat Power album. An impressive undertaking indeed. The result must prove to be her most personal release to date, I assume that was the intention. Her talents with various instruments will be scrutinised due to […]

Calexico – Algiers

Calexico-Algiers-SMALL

“We were talking about wanting to go to Europe and record,” Burns says, “but we never get our shit together in time to make plans that far in advance. So where do you go…? New Orleans.” Collaborator, Producer – Craig Schumacher Algiers is the sixth studio album from Calexico, recorded in and titled after the […]

Album Review: Easy Star All-Stars – Thrillah

thrillah

It’s almost thirty years since the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller – now the best-selling album of all time. It’s hard to forget the saddening procession of Jackson’s life after the success of the videos and (seven!) singles from Thriller propelled him into mega-stardom, through circus sideshow, disgrace and eventually to an untimely end, the […]

ALBUM: Don Niño – In The Backyard Of Your Mind

Don Nino

Don Niño (in reality a French chap called Nicolas Laureau) has a voice resembling Devendra Banhart, a drum sound evoking David Bowie’s Low, acoustic guitars reminiscent of  Love’s Forever Changes, and an album title that evokes the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s 1968 ditty ‘Canyons Of Your Mind’. However, to suggest that this album is as good as […]

ALBUM: WILD NOTHING – NOCTURNE

nocturne

To me, Jack Tatum’s music has always seemed contradictory. On his 2010 album, Gemini, Tatum used the stylistic devices of pop music as a stencil to aid his vision. Verses sunk into choruses perfectly, bridges obligingly followed and earworms were unearthed in their masses. As if Tatum’s song writing was akin to slotting together pieces […]

ALBUM: JOHNNO CASSON – WINDOW SHOPPING

Window-Shopping1

Ah, Coinstar Day. £21.47 redeemed from jean-pocket oblivion, all thanks to your charitable counting-machine friend. Know the feeling? Well, stand by: the improbable satisfaction that comes from just such little victories fills Johnno Casson’s delicate, quirky album, Window Shopping. Colchester singer-songwriter Casson, armed with previous self-releases under the name Snippet, delights a growing internet fanbase […]

ALBUM: MOEBIUS + TIETCHENS

MOEBIUS + TIETCHENS

There comes a time when most music lovers will claim to have heard it all before. Of course, the battle against jaded apathy is constant, and must be fought on all fronts. However, unctuous press releases try hard to extol the virtues of their offering, pitching it as the Third Coming and a cure for […]

Album Review: Laetitia Sadlier – Silencio

Silencio

Laetitia Sadlier, erstwhile singer with 90s influential experimental krautrock pop band Stereolab and main member of Stereolab side project Monade, follows up her debut solo album, The Trip, with her second album for Drag City, Silencio. On first listen, Silencio immediately comes across as a more fleshed out sound with more nuanced textures than The […]

ALBUM: PURITY RING ‘SHRINES’

Purity Ring

Searching for Purity Ring‘s discography seemed a logical idea at the time, as I kicked myself for letting their back-catalogue pass me by… before discovering that ‘Shrines’ is in fact a debut album. 4AD guarantee quality with a roster full of forward thinking artists who seem to have something in common, and yet all produce their […]

ALBUM: TY SEGALL BAND ‘SLAUGHTERHOUSE’

Slaughterhouse

There’s no stopping Ty – releasing singles and EPs under various names, playing in numerous bands and hopping from record label to record label as if they were bars on a pub crawl. He started in 2005 with Epsilons, then joined Party Fowl as well as The Traditional Fools, The Perverts and Sic Alps as […]

Album Review: Levellers – Static on the Airwaves

Picture-Levellers-Static-On-the-Airwaves-packshot-670x670

Grab your fiddles and dust off your digeridoos, folk-rock veterans Levellers are back with their tenth studio album Static on the Airwaves – their most polished but traditional album to date. Opening with white noise reminiscent of our very own Silent Radio, and an electro sequence Gary Numan would envy, you could be forgiven for […]

Album Review: Smoke Fairies – Blood Speaks

Smoke-Fairies

The signs of Smoke Fairies’ newfound maturity are there from the very start of second album, Blood Speaks. As muscular drum crackles join moody guitar, the trademark dual vocals of Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies announce their presence with a heavy confidence: “You got the power to bring me down, but I’ve got some sense, […]

ALBUM: SQUAREPUSHER – ‘UFABULUM’

Squarepusher

With the 90′s dance music scene very much making a comeback, the likes of Squarepusher have the perfect opportunity to show the young pretenders how it’s done. Another of  Warp’s electronical wizards, Tom Jenkinson, has been producing mind-bending sounds since 1994, along with label mates and veterans Aphex Twin and Autechre. ’4001′ kicks things off […]

ALBUM: DEPAKOTE – ‘I LIVE TO DIE AND I DIE TO LIVE’

Depakote

Depakote is a drug used to treat depression and bipolar disorder. Apparently, this has relevance to the Californian producer who also goes by the name of Count Chopula. The latest offering from the rather prolific Depakote has been released on the Manchester/LA based record label This City Is Ours. His first album ‘It’s Not ’94 Anymore’ […]

Album Review: Tenacious D – Rize of the Fenix

tenacious_d_rize_of_fenix

Kyle Gass, half of the core duo behind Tenacious D, has gone on record to argue Rize of the Fenix, third longer player from this most awesome of rock acts is “much like Nirvana’s first album Bleach or the Beatles first album Help. Rough and yet a masterpiece.” And how could a humble music reviewer […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Lettie – Good Fortune, Bad Weather

lettie-album-cover

The weather over the past few weeks has been fairly bad, but stumbling upon the latest release from Lettie will certainly give you good fortune. The London singer-songwriter’s new offering, Good Fortune, Bad Weather, is an album with the potential for plenty of hits with its great electro-pop sound and sublime songwriting. Lettie is a […]

Album Review: Beach House – Bloom

f251d544

The Wire, widely regarded as the best TV series of all time, is particulalry celebrated for its complex story lines, slowly coiling plot, use of authentic slang (only understandable via subtitles), and the way it mercilessly dissects a self-annhilating society from the bottom, with its petty drug dealers and tenement tower blocks, all the way […]

Album Review: Billy Vincent – She

billy_vincent_she_packshot

Building on the country-folk-rock template laid down in their King Island Coyote and Once on the Grand Union EPs, London quintet Billy Vincent are set to launch their debut album, She. A vivid, well-observed collection of songs, the five-piece capably bring together a range of big-hearted influences on this lively LP. One of the more […]

Album Review: North Atlantic Oscillation – Fog Electric

KSCOPE207 - NAO

It’s been two years since North Atlantic Oscillation crashed into this planet of ours and tackled the preconceptions of the different musical amalgamations that were already lingering about. Back then, I found Grappling Hooks to be a triumph. One of my first experiences with their music was set to the background of a beautiful sunset […]

ALBUM: SALIM NOURALLAH – HIT PARADE

salim_nourallah_hitparade

“Listen to it once, you’ll get it.” This was the closing line of the press release to Salim Nourallah’s latest release, Hit Parade. With such an outlandish comment I was intrigued to listen to what musical delight the American singer-song writer had produced. Sadly, I didn’t get it. Not the first time anyway. But after […]

ALBUM: ALASDAIR ROBERTS AND MAIRI MORRISON – URSTAN

URSTANsmall

If you had asked me a week ago my thoughts on Gaelic folk music, I would have to be honest and say that it isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But this album is something a little different; Urstan is one of those collaborations that makes so much sense that you have to wonder why […]

Album Review: Fruits de Mer Records – Sorrow’s Children

sorrowschildren

The Pretty Things’ 1967 album ‘S. F. Sorrow’ is the tragic story of the life of Sebastian F. Sorrow (“nobody knew what the ‘F’ stood for, and nobody really cared”); from humble beginnings, interrupted by war and destroyed by the death of his life-long love. It has been referred to as “the first rock opera” […]

Album Review: Hal – The Time The Hour

The Time The Hour Alternative2

After a 7-year hiatus that apparently saw main man David Allen ply his trade around the US on his own, Hal returned in February with a 4-track EP, Down In The Valley. Their second album, The Time The Hour, combines that EP’s best track and worst track with eight other new songs. It’s my sad […]

ALBUM REVIEW: ORBITAL – WONKY

Orbital

‘Wonky’ is the work of true masters in their field. Or in any field (speaking geographically). Many will be familiar with Phil and Paul Hartnoll’s story, as prominent producers of early 90′s ambient techno. Lying on an Ibiza beach as the sun comes up, listening to ‘Belfast’, was high on everyone’s list of things they’d […]

ALBUM REVIEW: IMPERIAL LEISURE – DEATH TO THE ONE TRICK PONY

DTTOTP-front

Not sure what the One Trick Pony ever did to Imperial Leisure, but this sophomore album forms a riotous call to arms. That poor pony is punked. I grew up in the same part of the capital as the band and remember their early gigs in various, nefarious down-at-heel North London pubs. They’ve come a […]

Album Review: Performance – Red Brick Heart

REDBRICK

Rarely do you find a band that makes you want to take the singer to the best indie disco in town for a drink and a proper chat and then dance like an idiot for the next ten hours. This is that band. By all accounts Performance have been through the wringer: record label misdemeanours, […]

Album Review: Efterklang – Magic Chairs

Efterklang

It’s a tricky thing coming at a band that you’re not entirely familiar with, that also ride on a wave of critical praise. It’s as if you have to like them, and if you don’t, your opinion is somehow defective. Nothing forces a person into their shell further than the feeling of being forced to […]

Album Review: Arch Garrison – King Of The Down

Arch Garrison

Warm, evocative and quintessentially English, the press release’s claim that King Of The Down was recorded in pastoral Wiltshire before a crackling fire rings true here. Craig Fortnam (usually of North Sea Radio Orchestra semi-fame) weaves textured tapestries of dazzling intricacy from his guitar, fusing classical and folk stylings via nylon and steel strings, with […]

Album Review: Marina & The Diamonds – The Family Jewels

marina-cover5b15d

The beauty of the music industry is that, just when you feel that you’ve heard it all, and that you’re about to be buried under a welcome wave of apathy, some wide-eyed Turks slap your face, twist your nipples and wake you to its latent vibrancy. Marina and her spangly Diamonds are those Turks, and they’re […]

Album Review: The Tenebrous Liar – Jackknifed & Slaughtered

tencover

The first impression Jackknifed & Slaughtered gives you, as heralded by the macabre album title itself, is one of bristling threat. It’s as if The Tenebrous Liar don’t want you to listen to them because they fear you won’t be able to take it. You won’t be able to handle the truths enclosed, and you’ll […]

Album Review: You Me At Six – Hold Me Down

yma6

You’ve no doubt at some point caught yourself thinking, in-between episodes of Gilmore Girls, “What if Fall Out Boy came from Weymouth in Sussex?” Well what started out as a mere hiccup in your bored brain has convinced itself into reality, in the form of band You Me At Six.  Hold Me Down is the band’s […]

Album Review: Codeine Velvet Club – Codeine Velvet Club

codeine-velevet-club-packsh

Some albums take a bit of getting used to, some are an instant rush, and some get better with each play. This joy of 11 tracks manages all three. It’s difficult to pin down as it gyrates from the foot stomping indie pop of ‘Little Sister’, to waltz-like ‘Nevada’, to the eerie ‘Reste Avec Moi’, […]

Album Review: Tanja Maritsa – Fragile

maritsa200-1

If I was going to review an album by the physical quality of the promotional material, Fragile would be the finest album of all time.  It arrived by special delivery. Inside the reinforced A4 cardboard envelope was a translucent plastic wallet. Inside that I discovered to my delight four different press releases printed on paper […]

Album Reviews: Metronomy – Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe)

metronomy-LST068464

Music that sounds like a computer going insane is a bit of a hard sell. When my computer goes potty and starts emitting unearthly forlorn bleeps it makes me want to kick the ridiculous contraption to pieces, whilst laughing maniacally. Kudos to Metronomy then for managing to change a very similar sound from an object of […]

Album Review: Moby – Wait For Me (Deluxe Edition)

Wait For Me

Maybe it’s unlikely that anything Moby releases can top the mega success of his Play LP, but Wait For Me’s charms lie in the fact that it doesn’t really try. Moby’s chilled-out tunes still sound as if they were concocted in the late 1990s where genres mixed and matched in the holy cause of the […]

Album Review: The Gilded Palace of Sin – Your Break Our Hearts, We’ll Tear Yours Out

Gilded

Cinematic in scope and Gothic in mood, The Gilded Palace Of Sin forge modern day blues from sparse arrangements and a willingness to approach ambitious metaphysical themes beyond standard relationship squabbles. Singer Pete Phythian has a characterful, lived-in voice, though sometimes his vocal melodies are a little too rudimentary and syllabically out of step. The band’s alchemic […]

Album Review: The Lovely Eggs – If You Were Fruit

THE_LOVELY_EGGS_-_IF_YOU_WERE_FRUIT

This début album could easily be from a slightly off kilter parallel universe. All fourteen sumptuous offerings served up here,are your ticket to this wonderful constellation that has been lovingly created from scratch by Holly Ross and David Blackwell. The opening track ‘Sexual Cowboy’ kicks off with a thrashing guitar which is reminiscent of the great bands […]

Album Review: White Rabbits – It’s Frightening

its-frightening

If you receive an album titled ‘It’s Frightening’ you expect to receive something covered in angst, terror and paranoia. It should hint at the end of the universe whilst never allowing you space to breath.  White Rabbits have attempted to create this feeling with a combination of dual drummers and heavy piano chords, which, at […]

Album Review: Phenomenal Handclap Band – Form & Control

Phenomenal Handclap Band

The name Phenomenal Handclap Band may suggest a novelty act, but this Brooklyn-based outfit challenges no conventions. Instead it combines disco, dance and rock elements with varying levels of success, on second album Form & Control at least. When they nail it they really nail it. Opening number ‘Following’ is funky and addictive, the sort […]

ALBUM REVIEW: ROEDELIUS – ROEDELIUS PLAYS PIANO

Roedilius

Roedelius Plays Piano is a live concert recording that has lurked in the vault since the eighties and is only now seeing the light of day. Hans-Joachim Roedelius himself explains thusly: “I always knew that this concert would have to be made available some day. I was just waiting for the right moment, for the […]

ALBUM: Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

lana-del-rey-born-to-die-orange-lipstick

Divisive, talented and manufactured, Lana Del Rey is the most hyped (over-hyped?) artist of her generation. The superlative ‘Video Games’ has racked up 24 million hits on youtube, and press attention has reached unprecedented levels, rivalling that of a royal hip-replacemnt. Everyone is expecting big things from the 25-year-old New Yorker. For someone whose debut […]

Album Review: Django Django – Django Django

Django_django

Django Django’s sound is difficult to define. To say that they have a sound is probably all that needs to be said, but I have been asked to write a review so I have to struggle to find words that define them. I doubt they are interested in reducing their music to a few soundbites, […]

Rough Trade Shops – Electronic 11

image004

The London-based label has unleashed it’s annual hardware upgrade of all things electronic and this year features everything from Nicolas Jaar to Rustie to the already legendary collab between Flying Lotus and Thom Yorke, but also the likes of Solar Bears, Ayshay, Modeselektor and Hercules & LoveAffair. For specifics you can find the track listing […]

Album Review: Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook

DVDCover__300RGB_20111025_150122

It’s a neat conceit. In a cramped marketplace of ever diminishing record store shelves; in a world where established artists continually look to re-interpret their back catalogue, to breathe life into old songs, it can be hard to divine an original approach. Some artists strip their songs down to their naked nuts and bolts, some […]

Album Review: Serge Gainsbourg – Histoire De Melody Nelson (2CD+DVD Deluxe Edition)

melody-nelson-cover[1]

Antoine de Caunes, presenter of 90s comedy titillater Eurotrash, famously once said: “Only one French person per generation makes it in England”. Serge Gainsbourg was that Frenchman of his generation, and like Antoine de Caunes he is today most famous for his sexually-charged material – who could forget ‘Je T’aime’? Unlike the Eurotrash man, Serge […]

Fruits de Mer/Regal Crabomophone – Annual 2012 (free download)

annual2012

There are two records on offer in this special-edition double 7” vinyl set; one each from the sister labels Fruits de Mer and Regal Crabomophone. It’s nice to see young people producing real physical things; it’s how the government wants the population to dig them out of our current economic hole. It’s refreshing too, that […]

ALBUM: ODONIS ODONIS – HOLLANDAZE

Odonis Odonis

Hollandaze is the debut album from Canadian, Dean Tzenos.  It was recorded in Vancouver with Black Mountain’s Colin Stewart and sent over to Brighton label FatCat Records, who were immediately galvanised into releasing the 10 track selection compiled here from the prolific newcomer, recording under the moniker Odonis Odonis. Apparently there were over 60 different […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Magazine – No Thyself

No Thyself

To reform or not to reform? For many grey-haired rockers, post-punks and Manchester indie sorts (hello Stone Roses!) the answer has of late been in the affirmative. The results of these reformations have been mixed. The Go-Betweens and Gang Of Four both picked up like they never stopped, successfully pushing their original sounds to new […]

Album Review: Jeffrey Lewis – A Turn In The Dream Songs

Jeffrey-Lewis-A-Turn-In-The-Dream-Songs

The way Jeffrey Lewis churns out near identical album one after the other leaves little room for innovative description. Musically, A Turn In The Dream Songs is pretty much the same as ‘Ere Are I. But then, in a Dylan-esque way, the music is incidental to Lewis’ appeal. It is merely a vehicle for Lewis’ […]

Album Review: Male Bonding – Endless Now

male-bonding-endless-now

With Male Bonding often being described as “noise pop”, their new release, Endless Now, seems to occupy the popular, if not the cooler, end of that sub-genre’s spectrum.  The slightly rougher edges of last year’s debut, Nothing Hurts, have been ground away and the London accents smoothed out and made a little more generic.  Could […]

Album Review: Rinse:016 – Ben UFO

Rinse_16-Ben-UFO

What can you write when it comes to Rinse? Anyone who has ears and a half decent taste in music will have stumbled across these boys at some point. Starting out as an online radio station, Rinse FM has proved its worth dozens of times over the past couple of years, constantly evolving and keeping […]

Album Review: Yann Tiersen – Skyline

artworks-000008958209-l3kgso-original

Skyline is Yann Tiersen’s seventh album, so perhaps it’s uncharitable to kick off by saying he is still best remembered – especially on this side of La Manche – for his score of the movie Amelie. But Christ on a bike, what a soundtrack that was – one of the few soundtracks I have actually […]

Album Review: The Drums – Portamento

The-Drums-Portamento-608x608

The new Drums album is named after a 17th Century Italian word meaning a slide between two vocal pitches, an apt name for an album, which also slides from one mood to another. The first album, Summertime!, is a release the band describe as a concept album, that while visceral and fun, lacked depth. This […]

Album Review: A Winged Victory For The Sullen – A Winged Victory For The Sullen

A_Winged_Victory_for_the_Sullen.jpg.scaled1000

While primal guitar and catchy lyrics may be desired at a gig or during a night on the town, at home many people are more than partial to something delicate and enigmatic. Sometimes sad, sometimes uplifting, panoramic, but never anything less than beautiful, they will find A Winged Victory for the Sullen to be just […]

Album Review: Cranium Pie – Mechanisms Part 1

mechanisms-cover

I used to go to music college with this guy: http://youtu.be/6eehugX2zOI *. I occasionally went to his house to listen to mind-bending music, look at his (insane) art and borrow books like Robert Sheckley’s ‘Dimension of Miracles’. He has an amazing collection of 60s garage and psychedelia as well as obscure gold, like The Residents’ […]

Album Review: Beirut – The Rip Tide

beirut_riptide

Beirut (aka Zack Condon) is quite the peculiarity.  His song writing technique is tantamount to musical colonialism (with all the positive and negative connotations involved) as he claims and manipulates great swathes of sovereign musical territory, and bedecks them with layers of semi-operatic baritone. On Gulag Orkestar he gobbled up much of Eastern Europe; on […]

ALBUM: DJ SHADOW – THE LESS YOU KNOW, THE BETTER

DJ Shadow

Having followed DJ Shadow since the release of his seminal debut album ‘Endtroducing…’, I’ve yet to hear anything from the Californian producer that surpasses it. I still very much enjoy his work and follow his career, though nothing compares. ‘The Less You Know, The Better’ would appear to be an appropriate instruction, if I’m to […]

ALBUM: I BREAK HORSES – HEARTS

I BREAK HORSES - HEARTS

‘Hearts’ is the product of 2 years of refining and experimenting from the Swedish duo. The sound, which now cascades from my speakers like a pure, hot spring, wastes no time in elevating you to a lofty vantage point. Waves of reverb emerses you and the Cathedral-esque organs inspire while the light guitar adds sparkle. […]

ALBUM: DEPECHE MODE – REMIXES 2 81-11

Depeche-Mode-Remixes-2-81-11

It’s quite a hard task, even for some of the experienced synthesiser generals present here, to remix well-known, established songs. Sometimes the concept evokes square-pegs-in-round-holes, as the remixer attempts to force the song in a direction it was never intended to go in – sometimes this is a good thing, often it is not. Sometimes […]

ALBUM: VANDAVEER – DIG DOWN DEEP

dig down deep

This is Washington based singer songwriter Mark Charles Heidinger’s 3rd album in 4 years. Clocking up an impressive 450+ gigs in the process, and a few EP’s, he would appear a busy man. But his music sounds anything but hectic and urgent. He’s like a confident and empowered Damien Rice… a vocally deeper version of […]

Album Review: Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

When the Manchester Evening News relaunched CityLife a few years back – not long before the axe was plunged through its privates – Neil Sowerby, the then editor, personally warned me not to request the Bon Iver gig because everyone wanted it (and presumably I was not CityLife´s star critic). Fine, I was completely unaware […]

ALBUM: CASHIER NO.9 – TO THE DEATH OF FUN

CASHIER NO9

The band name and album title suggest a disliking of the Post Office and the cover art depicts moody, painted skies… I’m expecting some retrospective analysis of the dreary UK here, from this Belfast five piece. Immediately after pressing play, the bright acoustic guitar chords on ‘Goldstar’ suggest a sunnier disposition, but the lyrics contain a […]

ALBUM: WU LYF – GO TELL FIRE TO THE MOUNTAIN

WU LYF – GO TELL FIRE TO THE MOUNTAIN

They’re an odd bunch, Wu Lyf (aka World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation!). At a time when most unsigned bands would give their right arm for a record deal, these four men of mystery did anything but look for one. It seemed, for a time, that Wu Lyf’s manifesto was to shy away from the music […]

ALBUM: GOODLUCK JONATHAN – THIS IS OUR WAY OUT

GLJ

Sometimes, when you sit down to write a review, you have to be honest with yourself. I consider myself to be someone who ‘gets’ the music that falls within post-hardcore’s boundaries. But do I enjoy it? That is another matter. There is fun to be had when listening to experimental, futuristic sounds and song concepts. […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

demolishedthoughts

Four years after Trees Outside The Academy, Thurston Moore has once again emerged from the little music place artsy rock stars go to hide and has come back with his most depressingly beautiful album to date. Working with legendary singer-songwriter, Beck, Moorehas managed to create an extremely moving, symphonic folk opus, well-worthy of attention as […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact

Gang-Gang-Dance-Eye-Contact

Over the past few years, a few of the most talked-about indie bands have been those making music with a historical sense of mystical drama. Fiery Furnaces, Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear, and Animal Collective, among others, have been variously and inventively appropriating rock ‘n’ roll’s roots in ritualistic sounds. By and large, they draw upon ideas […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80 – From Africa With Fury: Rise

Seun-Kuti-Egypt-80-From-Africa-with-Fury-Rise

When Fela, Seun’s father, died of AIDS in 1997, you can bet that the Nigerian authorities could not believe their luck. For decades, Fela Kuti was an outspoken and fearless critic of his native government – Nigeria is (according to Forbes) the world’s 18th most corrupt country. His self-given middle name Anikulapo, adopted by his […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Micachu & The Shapes and The London Sinfonietta – Chopped & Screwed

Micachu & The Shapes and The London Sinfonietta – Chopped & Screwed

Chopped & Screwed is being touted as Rough Trade’s first ever classical release, and is the live product of a collaborative effort between three-piece Micachu and The Shapes and contemporary orchestra London Sinfonietta. The set, recorded last May at King’s Place in The Big Smoke, came about after frontwoman Mica was invited by London Sinfonietta […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Bad For Lazarus – 25 EP

Bad For Lazarus – 25 EP

Bad for Lazarus is a collaboration between ex-members of The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, UNKLE and NIN. Their first release, ahead of a full-length hard-rock offering (due in May) is the 25 EP: a melange of rock-and-roll and 60s East Coast garage which occasionally verges on the psychobilly. The themes have a little of the […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Soundgarden – Live on I-5

Soundgarden – Live on I-5

In April 1995, I spent two weeks in Seville. I’d never watched MTV before, and I was glued. It was Grunge Weekend and ‘Black Hole Sun’ was on every five minutes. Out shopping, I spotted a Nirvana bootleg and bought it, despite already owning all of Nirvana’s official albums. My Spanish friend asked me “Why?”, […]

ALBUM REVIEW: J Mascis – Several Shades Of Why

j-mascis-cover

I was quite excited to hear J Mascis is finally releasing a solo album – although I’d always thought of his other post Dinosaur Jr. albums as mainly solo efforts. Still, the thought of a solo album is an interesting prospect, and I thought it might be not unlike his previous work with Dinosaur and […]

ALBUM REVIEW: The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines

The title of The Vaccines’ debut album is, perhaps, a response to the masses of hype they’ve been the subject to since releasing their début single ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ last November.  Most of this is due, perhaps, to the online buzz that they’ve created, and their tendency to keep their cards very close to their […]

ALBUM: New York Dolls – Dancing Backward In High Heels

New York Dolls are back on fantastic creative form with their wonderful new album, ‘Walking Backward In High Heels’, which was recorded and mixed in sunny Newcastle – miles from their home in New York City. Just shows you what you can achieve when you are taken from the clean streets of NY to the […]

ALBUM: Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

It’s quite hard, when listening to Kurt Vile, to reconcile the sound of the music with the name of its creator (though, it could very well be his real name…(but, probably not…(but then, it might be…))). You’d probably be expecting something quite raucous.  However, not finding that, you probably won’t be too disappointed either. Even […]

ALBUM: Jeff Beck – Rock ‘n’ Roll Party, Honouring Les Paul

Jeff Beck rocks. We all presumed that to be self-evident but now it’s palpably true. He rolls as well – although that may be more to do with the passing of years. This album is a celebration of the life, career and music of Les Paul.  It’s incredible to think that the man who built and put his […]

ALBUM: Port-Royal – 2000-2010: The Golden Age of Consumerism

Truly great music, be it critically acclaimed, commercially successful or both, has to fit a certain purpose at a certain time or be the best at what it does. As Port-Royal are not (to my knowledge) a fresh-faced young boy band like One Direction filling the void left in the teenage dreamboat demographic, we can  […]

ALBUM: Dustin O’Halloran – Lumiere

The church was the driving force behind the development of early classical music; nowadays, it’s the film industry and (unfortunately) advertising which pay the classical composer’s way. Modern ‘popular classical’ music has taken on a dance-music character, with shorter chord progressions, less of a tendency towards quirky melody lines, and an avoidance of the highly-emphasised, […]

ALBUM: Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Am I alone in this? In, when news breaks of a new Radiohead release, not crossing fingers behind my back that it’s a return to “OK Computer Radiohead”? I like ‘Kid A’. I love ‘Hail To The Thief’. Whisper it quietly, ‘In Rainbows’ is probably my favourite Radiohead album. So, when news broke earlier this week, that Radiohead’s new […]

ALBUM: The Megaphonic Thrift – Decay Decoy

Come on an imaginary road trip with me. We’re in a ’61 Thunderbird, top down, wind in our hair. We’re hurtling headlong down a never ending bolt-straight Mojave Desert road. The midday sun beats relentlessly down, the heat haze shimmers. Our arms are draped languidly over the side of the car. The occasional cactus is […]

ALBUM: Treefight For Sunlight – Treefight For Sunlight

Ironically, when I got the review list for this month, I asked if I could do Fleet Foxes and instead, I got Treefight for Sunlight – who want to be Fleet Foxes. That’s mean of me, I suppose – the truth is that both of them want to be the Beach Boys. What really sparked […]

ALBUM: PETE YORN – PETE YORN

Pete Yorn’s self titled 6th studio album is the result of an impromptu 5 day recording session with Pixies frontman and indie rock legend Frank Black. Recorded in a makeshift studio over the summer of 2008 whilst the prolific songsmith was in the middle of making his 4th LP Back & Fourth, this record perhaps demonstrates […]

ALBUM: Amplifier – The Octopus

Amplifier’s third album is a gargantuan piece of work. Stunning in its scale, over the course of a two-hour opus, Sel Balamir, Neil Mahony and Matt Brobin ramp up the bombast to galactic proportions, somehow doing so without leaving the light of their earthly observatory. Self-financed and three years in the making, The Octopus is not merely […]

ALBUM – THE DARK SKY SINGERS

- LIKE NO ENGLISH -

- LIKE NO ENGLISH – Unusually in these times saturated with the minutiae of celebrity life, there is no superlative press release issued with this EP and little information available on the internet. This paucity of background detail is a predicament faced by those reviewing this EP before me, if the scant online critiques are […]

ALBUM: The Chemistry Set – This Day Will Never Happen Again

The UK has a long, illustrious line of gently psychedelic guitar pop bands going right back to the likes of The Moody Blues (you better believe it), through XTC, Shack and The Coral, proponents all of sweet, sweet melodies and lush, pastoral arrangements. The Chemistry Set can – and should – count themselves as part […]

ALBUM: Ensemble – Excerpts

With its crisply crafted songwriting – reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and The Lilac Time – sophisticatedly interspersed with lush orchestration, and lashings of distortion, Excerpts impresses immediately. The resulting (and desired) effect of such interplay is of an album amorphously going in and out of focus. The title, Excerpts, and track 2’s name, ‘Things I Forgot’, […]

ALBUM: Hannah Peel – The Broken Wave

I like “wonky”. I like “folk”. Man, truth be told, I even like “pop”. So Hannah Peel’s description of her style as Wonky Folk Pop right away pitches her 100% centre-stage on my radar. Hannah’s star is definitely on the rise, with reviewers blanketing pretty much everything she turns her hand to with praise (and that […]

ALBUM: British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall

Hats off to any band who call their own debut album The Decline of British Sea Power – although you’d imagine they were really referring to the waterborne capability of our nation, rather than their own musical fortunes. Which brings us to 2011.  Somehow strange to realise that Valhalla Dancehall is the band’s fifth long player; they seem somehow fresh […]

ALBUM: Plain White T’s – Wonders of the Younger

You call your band Plain White T’s, you’re asking for trouble. I mean, it’s almost like sticking your head above the parapet and saying, “We’re bland. Bland, bland, bland.” They’ve been around a deceptively long time though – here come Plain White T’s, the band that gave the world the Grammy nominated frat-party anthem ‘Hey […]

ALBUM: The Puppini Sisters – Christmas with The Puppini Sisters

Musically, Christmas is horrible. Each year a massive corporate free-for-all where whatever hermaphrodite boy band/pop act is currently in vogue infects the airwaves with whatever shit excuse for a song they pull out their arses. And just when you think non-industry types have fought a successful campaign against Santa, as with Rage Against The Machine […]

ALBUM: Bruce Springsteen – The Promise

To start with a cliché, when I was young Bruce Springsteen was so ubiquitous, so well-established that the only thing I could do, as an angst-y sixteen-year-old, was to disregard him. To me he was nothing more than a crusty, jingoistic, cheese-peddler who clashed badly with my nascent nihilism. But time changes everything, and ten […]

ALBUM: MIDDLE CLASS RUT – NO NAME NO COLOR

“I came into this world as nothing, I ain’t gonna leave that way,” sings Zack Lopez on ‘I guess You Could Say’, the track which, on 10 March 2009, Zane Lowe damningly named his Hottest Record in the World. In a world of 6 billion people, Zane Lowe is a waste of human matter, and a […]

ALBUM: Gregory and The Hawk – Leche

Gregory and The Hawk, it sounds like a children’s book does it not? Indeed, singer songwriter, Meredith Godreau, took the name from her brother, Gregory, and his imaginary childhood hawk in a George Eliot-esque move – wearing the mask of someone/something else to gain credibility and avoid being pigeonholed. In Godreau’s case it was to […]

ALBUM: Ray Davies – See My Friends

Ray Davies is without doubt one of the UK’s very best rock & rollers - a saint amongst songwriters.  The Kinks were to north London, what The Beatles were to Liverpool and their output was equally varied – from the distorted rock & roll of “You Really Got Me” to the gorgeous mellowness of “Waterloo Sunset”. Kinky Ray […]

ALBUM: Seal Cub Clubbing Club – Royal Variety

Seal Cub Clubbing Club’s ‘Royal Variety’ sounds like a mix of Radiohead, Terrorvision, Hot Chip, Arctic Monkeys, Oceansize, blah, blah, blah, blah… If you want to read a review about who this album sounds like, then go elsewhere – because although it’s easy to compare SCCC to Radiohead, especially when listening to songs like ‘The Borough’, the comparison […]

ALBUM: Liars – Proud Evolution

If Liars are, “…interested in the alternate spaces people create in order to maintain identity in a city like L.A. Environments where outcasts and loners celebrate a skewered relationship to society,” then Proud Evolution marks the point where a dysfunctional relationship with society becomes pathological. Amidst the extended (and demented) periods of ambient wastelands, inhabited with single repetitive notes, […]

ALBUM: Jamiroquai – Rock Dust Light Star

Remember when Jamiroquai was cool?  Like, really… incontrovertibly….Antarctic chilly?  I remember the time of the first album, when those initial tracks began seeping through the PAs of the nightclubs I frequented in Sydney, where I was living at the time.  Those tunes sounded fresh – with great vocals, funky beds, an ecological sensibility and – well OK, admittedly, […]

ALBUM: Cradle of Filth – Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa

In an age of dwindling profits and piracy so rampant one would imagine half of all under-30s wore eye-patches and wooden legs, it’s quite understandable that record labels don’t let untrustworthy oiks like me get our slippery hands on copies of precious, precious copyrighted music. Unfortunately, it makes it a little awkward for me to […]

ALBUM: A Genuine Freakshow – Oftentimes

Reading-based band A Genuine Freakshow is not a genuine freakshow. There are no superfluous third nipples to be found here (that I know of), no hairy babies and no gnomes or elephant men among their ranks. If anything, like putting a 5’10” Caucasian man in a cage at said freakshow, A Genuine Freakshow are disappointingly […]

ALBUM: Sparrow and the Workshop – Black to Red EP

Harking back to the folk and folk rock of the late 60s, there is something simultaneously retrogressive and gloriously refreshing about Sparrow and the Workshop. Belfast-born, Chicago-raised Jill O’Sullivan enunciates like Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick on the surf rock/Pixies riffing of ‘Black to Red’, and Sandy Denny on the reverberating tones of ‘Medal Around Your […]

ALBUM: The Dark Sky Singers – Like No English

Unusually in these times saturated with the minutiae of celebrity life, there is no superlative press release issued with this EP and little information available on the internet. This paucity of background detail is a predicament faced by those reviewing this EP before me, if the scant online critiques are anything to go by. However, […]

ALBUM: Broken Records – Let Me Come Home

Refined via demo sessions at an old distillery grain store in the Scottish Highlands, Let Me Come Home has a sound that evokes its gestation – expansive, isolated, desolate and beautiful. Broken Records themselves have the sound of a folk band that gradually augmented into something louder and wider, and indeed these songs began acoustically, written in […]

ALBUM: Cloud Nothings – Turning On

There’s such a buzz behind Cloud Nothings at the moment that it’s easy to imagine that they could be the next American alternative act to break through big, which makes the release of their debut album Turning Onrather timely. With that in mind, ‘Can’t Stay Awake’ is a fantastic way to open proceedings, very much a […]

ALBUM: John Fairhurst – Band

In popular music time is nearly always against you. Most genres lend themselves to younger musicians. The apolitical/anti-political sentiments of the punk movement would have sounded lame and childish if they’d been sung by OAPs (though The Sex Pistol’s are immature regardless), and Westlife would never count legions of screaming, braindead female fans (and Wayne […]

ALBUM: Denis Jones – Red + Yellow =

I’ve seen Denis Jones live thrice – once was with a full band, and it was the least effective of the three. The other shows gained a lot from the fact that Denis does everything himself (mostly with a loop pedal) – and it’s genuinely fascinating to watch him do it. I’m worried that this […]

ALBUM: Hauschka – Foreign Landscapes

Scrolling through FatCat’s recent and upcoming releases, it is abundantly clear that they set thebenchmark for fascinating, challenging alternative music of a standard that other record labels could only dream of. Few, though, are more challenging or fascinating than Hauschka, and no one takes as long to set up for a show. Until recently it took […]

ALBUM: Violens – Amoral

Whenever you hear of another band from NYC, you have to think, are they really from NYC or have they just relocated there and adopted the NYC brand name because it’s ‘cool’?  Violens are one of the latest acts to come out of the city peddling their debut album, Amoral, which is due to be released shortly. Maybe, […]

ALBUM: Badly Drawn Boy – It’s What I’m Thinking Part 1: Photographing Snowflakes

An idiot once said to me: “All the best trilogies come in threes”.  I thought about it, and realised the idiot had a point.  This came to mind upon hearing what Damon Gough was planning to do next, for the bearded behatted one has cut quite the elusive figure of late.  Aside from the soundtrack to […]

Fast-Forward – The World Cup Goes Indie – Final Knock-out Stages

I can’t contain it, the excitement is reaching fever-pitch: I am going to a music festival on a Mediterranean beach in July. On an unrelated and much less exciting note, I am also going to find out which one of 32 plinky little indie tunes I dislike the least. But to make it interesting, and […]

Fast Forward – The World Cup Goes Indie [Round of 16]

The knock-out stages are ready to begin. The rules are simple – I think most of these tunes are the musical equivalent of those horrible world cup flavoured crisps, so I don’t want to listen to them any more than I have to. It’s a simple contest – two songs play, the best one goes […]

Fast Forward: The World Cup Goes Indie

Fast Forward: An Indie Music Companion To World Cup 2010 [The Group Stages] Yes folks – now is the time – the time to be excited about the World Cup. Now is the time for hope, before the inevitability of England bowing out (on penalties) in the Quarter Finals, and Brazil narrowly overcoming Spain and […]

ALBUM: Exit Calm – Exit Calm

‘They don’t feel,’ Exit Calm’s Nicky Smith calls out at the emotional climax of their eponymous debut album’s ‘Hearts and Minds’ — something that could never be said about his band. Indeed, their soaring first full-length is a work of undeniable majesty. It’s best to get mention of the overtones of The Verve out of […]

ALBUM: Sandi Thom –Merchants and Thieves

Eric Clapton, BB King, Peter Green, even Seasick Steve . . . there is a hint of all these blues legends in Sandi Thom’s third album, Merchants and Thieves. The harsh truth is that if a man had made this album it would have been instantly derided as a rip-off, yet Sandi’s undoubted feminine charms […]

ALBUM: The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Blood and Fire

I try not to let a band’s image or history get in the way of the music – Bowie’s alleged Nazi salutes don’t make Changes any less of a tune – and Bono’s charity do-gooding can’t rescue anything that U2 released after 1995. However, I find it hard not to sympathise a little more with […]

ALBUM: MGMT – Congratulations

You have to admire MGMT’s bloody mindedness. They release what were arguably the three finest singles of the noughties (honestly, who can resist the pop euphoria of “Kids”?), and record one of the finest albums in recent memory. A large number of their fans don’t get, skip over, or simply disregard as self-indulgent noodling most […]

ALBUM: William Fitzsimmons – Derivatives

William Fitzsimmons has a remarkable story to tell. Born the youngest son of a blind couple in Pittsburgh, he grew up to be a psychotherapist. The eventual break up of his parents’ marriage proved so traumatic that he wrote an album, the recording of which proved so difficult that Fitzsimmons’ own marriage flew off the […]

ALBUM: The National – High Violet

There is a weight of expectation surrounding High Violet, the fifth album from Brooklyn based band The National.  After a couple of false starts, Alligator (2005) jolted the band out of obscurity, gaining them a cult following and critical adulation. Boxer (2007) was a much grander and better produced effort, which, whilst not quite hitting the same euphoric highs as Alligator, allowed the […]

ALBUM: Airship – Algebra EP

Manchester band Airship’s ‘Algebra EP’ sounds like it was made by taking the 90′s indie scene and putting it in a blender, but it’s clearly for the modern audience. It fits well alongside the new wave of Scottish bands like ‘Band of Horses’, ‘We Were Promised Jetpacks’ and ‘Twin Atlantic’ (whom Airship recently supported). ‘Algebra’ […]

ALBUM: White Belt Yellow Tag – Methods

From one of the worst named bands in a long while comes one of the most boring album titles.  Perhaps this is a deliberate plan from the man who brought you one fifth of Yourcodenameis:milo.  Forget the flashy name and catchy titles let the music do the talking.  The early signs are good, the NME […]

ALBUM: Kitsuné Maison 9 – Various Artists

If this is your first taste of Kitsuné, you’d be forgiven for being a tad confused. They currently boast a successful fashion company, Parisian clothes store and a record label. Amidst this indie frenzy  they supply the world with the quirkiest, most exciting new music on regular compilations. Now releasing compilation number nine, “petit bateau […]

ALBUM: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome (Deluxe Edition)

Although ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome’ is commonly thought of as an album very much of the 1980s, in many ways it is not at all typical of other big hit pop albums of that decade. In fact it’s a strange mix that, in the end, cannot decide what it wants to be, either musically or […]

ALBUM: Monkey Poet – Welcome to the UK

Comedian Dough Stanhope once said “Babies are like poems – they’re beautiful… to their creators.” I’m not sure whether the ‘Monkey Poet’ [Matt Panesh] would call what he does on stage ‘beautiful’ – after all, it’s noisy, angry, challenging and unconventional. In all fairness, I think he’d be the first to admit that it’s positively ugly […]

ALBUM: Officer Kicks – Citywide Curfew

Several things annoy me deeply about this album. Firstly there’s the typeface ripped off the Libertines. It suggests, correctly, a complete lack of originality, and worse still that we’re faced with yet another imitation landfill indie band. It was a depressing prospect two years ago, and now it’s reached suicidal levels. And then there’s the […]

ALBUM: Starkey – Ear Drums & Black Holes

Starkey raises the bar to new heights with this release. His second studio album to date “Ear Drums & Black Holes” is nothing short of perfect and reinforces why Starkey, the pioneer of his self coined “Street Bass” sound, is at the top of his game right now. The album shines through the saturated world of […]

ALBUM: Mr Fogg – Moving Parts

In Jules Verne’s famed novel Phileas Fogg is an isolated character, a man obsessed by routine and order who breaks from a lifetime of conformity to win a twenty thousand pound wager.  He is a cold character who rarely displays any emotion but full belief in his cause.  It is therefore appropriate that a man […]

ALBUM: Noisia – Split the Atom

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a Noisia track. I literally stopped mid sentence. I was so gripped by what I was hearing. The track stood out like a sore thumb and everything else I heard that night paled in comparison. It was so crisp, so precise, structured so perfectly. How do you […]

ALBUM: Michael Fakesch – Exchange

German based Michael Fakesch is one half of the now defunct duo Funkstörung (translated to Radio Interference) with ex-partner, Chris De Luca. Back in 1992 the pair invested in a Roland TR808 & Roland TB303 and set out to make some noise. Eighteen years on they’ve had a fruitful career with numerous releases on a […]

ALBUM: The Chameleons – What Does Anything Mean? Basically

The Chameleons have long been relegated to the position of footnote in the history of Manchester music, despite being the greatest band to ever emerge from Middleton.  They have become the Gaugin to the Stone Roses Van Gough, the Salieri to the Smiths Mozart.  With this reissue of the seminal 1985 album ‘What Does Anything […]

ALBUM: We Have Band – WHB

I’m still not too sure whether I want to be friends with We Have Band. He (she, whatever) is a little bit pretentious. He sings like a version of Guy Garvey who hasn’t spent his life drinking beer and eating cigarettes in The Temple or Big Hands. There are chasms of hidden depth, but there’s […]

ALBUM: North Atlantic Oscillation – Grappling Hooks

North Atlantic Oscillation, sounds like the technical name for a cyclonic Inuit dance doesn’t it, when in fact it’s a climactic phenomenon that controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. In this case it’s also the name of a fascinating, experimental rock band from Scotland – not known […]

ALBUM: Goldfrapp – Head First

Where Goldfrapp’s fourth album, “Seventh Tree”, marked a refreshing departure into ambient, acoustic territory, their fifth, Head First, finds the band travelling back in time to the 1980’s. This is no better exemplified than by “I Wanna Life”, forgettable synth pop cheese whose influences one could attribute to any of a number of low-rent 80s […]

ALBUM: Butler Williams – Save it for Someone Else EP

Butler Williams sound like a couple of nice guys.  Their voices are soothing and mellow and their parts merge so peacefully that it is often impossible to distinguish where one starts and the other one finishes. This is their second release to date and for two guys who are known for performances which give a bit […]

ALBUM: Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can

Laura Marling’s first album, “Alas I Cannot Swim” was an impossibly brilliant debut. Released just after she turned 18 her lyrics combined a delicate shyness with a world-weary maturity that spoke of things with a level of understanding that few people reach in their lifetime, let alone while they are still in their teens. The […]

ALBUM: Boe Weaver – Boe Weaver

Boe Weaver is the physical manifestation of one of Stuart Maconie’s wet dreams. It’s as if they make sounds specifically for the Freak Zone (and let me take this opportunity to say save BBC 6 Music). This stuff is so far left of leftfield; it’s off the field, outside the stadium, and taking tea in […]

ALBUM: Dag For Dag – Boo

Dag for Dag, who have just released their debut album ‘BOO’, are a Swedish-American brother and sister combination. Over the years, Swedish and American genes have combined to produce such visual delights as Kim Bassinger, Uma Thurman and Scarlet Johansson; such high-fliers as Charles Lindeburg and Buzz Aldrin; and every politician in Minnesota. In addition to […]

ALBUM: Liars – Sisterworld

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that opening track ‘Scissor’ from Liars latest release ‘Sisterworld’ is nothing short of genius. In fact I could probably write a review of this track alone but I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible, this is an album review after all. The track […]

ALBUM: Broken Bells – Broken Bells

Too many collaborations sound like a match made in heaven, but end up in purgatory. They disappoint because the individual musician owes more to his band than he or she (or we) might think, and they have to compromise their own artistic vision to fit in with someone else’s leading to a product that is […]

ALBUM: Lemar – The Hits

Along with loss and love, unrequited love has long been one of the great themes of literature and music.  Unrequited love lacks any of the beauty or purity of real love. It is dark, obsessive and can destroy those who dwell in it.  In music, however, many songs about this love are often poignantly beautiful […]

ALBUM: New Young Pony Club – The Optimist

New Young Pony Club, who play Manchester’s Mojo Live on Saturday 20th March as part of a tour of several Euopean countries, have just released their second album – the optimistically-titled ‘The Optimist’. When you live in the middle of a recession in a United Kingdom whose Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have not spoken […]

ALBUM: Boogybytes Vol. 5 – Mixed by Seth Troxler

For those of you that didn’t know, Seth Troxler started out DJing at 16 years old in Detroit (alongside working in a local record store) when he developed what he now likes to coin as, “A preternatural understanding of rave, and dance music history, that now allows him to conjures up mixes and tracks like […]

ALBUM: The Smoking Hearts – Pride of Nowhere

This first full release by the Smoking Hearts is bad, it is very bad, and it is quite possibly the worst music I have ever heard. It is so bad it even fails to be laughable. Its only possible use is as an aide to interrogators of terror suspects, but it is most likely forbidden by […]

ALBUM: Kris Drever – Mark The Hard Earth

In the inlay, Kris Drever thanks, ‘All the people I play with in my day job’. And it’s true – despite the critical acclaim heaped on Kris Drever’s first album, Black Water - mainstream audiences will know Kris as the quieter one who plays with Idlewild’s frontman in their acoustic project, Drever McCusker Woomble, and the folkies will be more acquainted with Lau, […]

ALBUM: Motion Picture Soundtrack – The Shapes We Fear Are Of Our Own

“Every time I put this CD in my computer it makes a horrible noise”, is not the kindest way to start a review, but it’s true. I hope it’s only my promo copy of The Shapes We Fear Are of Our Own that’s dodgy and not the whole run. At least the disc is self-aware […]

ALBUM: The Internal Tulips – Mislead into A Field By A Deformed Deer

From past experience we all knowPlanet Mu delivers the goods. Since its conception it’s yet to bring you anything your ears didn’t want to hear and has always been a merchant of the new and experimental. The Internal Tulipsare no exception to the rule, and with a LP entitled “Mislead into A Field By A Deformed Deer”, […]

ALBUM: Communion – The Compilation

A Communion is defined as a joining together of minds or spirits, and although this compilation may put the fear of God into non believers with its religious connotations, the album is not a religious outpouring.  Communion is a collection of fantastic folk artists, whose music, whether you are atheist, Jew, gentile or Christian, pulls something spiritual […]

ALBUM: Kathryn Williams – The Quickening

It is ten years now since Kathryn Williams’s second album Little Black Numbers garnered a Mercury Prize nomination. For a select few, including the likes of Dizzy Rascal – touted as Britain’s answer to the likes of Jay-Z but in reality rather more like our answer to MC Hammer – Mercury recognition has been the […]

ALBUM: Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

For those of you who weren’t cool enough to be in the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC for short), Shearwaters are medium-sized long-winged seabirds with over thirty species; and for those of you not familiar with tectonic geography, an archipelago is a chain or cluster of islands. Together they create a sense of something remote, wild and pristine […]

ALBUM: The Who – Greatest Hits and More

I hate Greatest Hits compilations for their soullessness, but on the other hand, I like The Who – especially for their soul – so this review might genuinely tear me in two, like a piece of Doublemint. ‘Tear me in two, like this album’ might have been a better analogy – the box-set comprises two discs, one […]

ALBUM: Musée Méchanique – Hold This Ghost

Conceived in and named after a museum of antique arcade machines, this Portland quintet have mastered the technique of transforming melancholic resignation into an art form and the result is wholly deserving of admiration. Like Home fades in with computer generated orchestration, arpeggio acoustic guitar notes, and a synth part that later morphs into something from […]

ALBUM: Corinne Bailey Rae -The Sea

One thing that struck me when watching the Brits is how much of this awful pop-pap-r&b gunk we are spoon fed is not so much sung as shouted by whatever latest overdressed, overhyped bint some major has so delightfully delivered unto us.  And then you putThe Sea into your CD player, hit play, and you realise there […]

ALBUM: Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

Charlotte Gainsbourg may very nearly share a surname with a hill-town in darkest Lincolnshire, but in fact she shares more in common with Jared Leto than arable land and sausages. This is because she an actress (a good one, best actress at Cannes Film Festival 2009 anyone?) and also a musician. So not like Jared […]

ALBUM: First Aid Kit – The Big Black And The Blue

It’s always strange when hype focuses its attention on the young age of the artists in question: the press, the industry, need musicians to be young. They need to believe in youth, to keep the hype – the legend – alive. If The Big Black And The Blue had been made by two middle-aged, rather […]

ALBUM: JESCA HOOP – HUNTING MY DRESS

jesca_hoop-hunting-my-dress

Plucked from obscurity over in the US by Elbow, a band recently and famously plucked from the gallows by last gasp blaster The Seldom Seen Kid, Jesca Hoop has come to our shores backed by Britain’s newest favourite band. But it seems to me that she’s been plucked from somewhere far less familiar than the […]

ALBUM: Mumford and Sons – Sign No More

There’s a festival feel here. I’m not sure which one either. Whether it’s the easy informality of Leicester’s Summer Sundae or something more profound like echoes of Woodstock. But I am sure that the songs are wonderful. They’re uplifting, skipping along with a deftness of touch which makes them comfortably familiar and yet still fresh […]

ALBUM: Joe Pernice – It Feels So Good When I Stop (Novel Soundtrack)

The problem With It Feels So Good When I Stop is that it was recorded as an accompaniment to his novel of the same name, and though I know it would infinitely augment the quality of this review I can’t be bothered to read it. However, if I was to take a wild stab at […]

ALBUM: Dan Mangan – Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Gracenotes only gives you one option – Nice, Nice, Very Nice is folk it solemnly declares. But don’t let that mislead you, as it most certainly isn’t. Acoustic singer-songwriter… OK, so those are misnomers too. Whatever it is or whatever it isn’t, Dan Mangan’s got an earnest voice, wrapping his vocals around decisive lyrics – these aren’t […]

ALBUM: Plastiscines – About Love

I was quite excited for the album ‘About Love’ by Plastiscines;a quartet of “super-extra-hot French girls” who promised to take us by the scruff of our necks and force-feed us French grunge. By the time I’d reached track three, my illusions of this band being a part of ‘Girl Power’ 2010 were shattered, and I was […]

ALBUM: Eamon McGrath – 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light

As Eamon slurs through smoke-shredded throat, “Well I got myself a drinking problem now, but I blame it on the town,” during the jagged and shadowy ‘Desperation, Alberta’, you’ll get butterflies and register that this album is superb. This Canadian fella has only just hit his twenties, that’s the scary thing. He sounds like he has […]

ALBUM: Hey Rosetta! – Into Your Lungs (and around in your heart and on through your blood)

Opening with gentle guitar picking and breathy vocals, Hey Rosetta!’s ‘Into Your Lungs’ gradually builds, picking up all manner of instruments along the way and regularly bursting into uplifting chorus. One can’t help but be buouyed by the mood of these Canadian rockers, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an eclectic mix of […]

ALBUM: Castrovalva – We Are A Unit

Whether Castrovalva took their name from the Escher lithograph or the Doctor Who series is unclear. What is certain is that this band’s output, which sounds like it’s been brewed up in Satan’s oily tar pits to bubble out through one of BP’s catastrophes, is as murky as hell. “We Are A Unit” is a […]