Review: It's fair to say that when The National release an album the Cincinnati originating supergroup garner the same type of attention that Radiohead once drew. With some futuristic production techniques creeping its way into the band's engineered sound, a new expressionism in the group's sound on "I Am Easy To Find" makes its way into the open, if only subtly. With the opening passages of "You Had Your Soul With You" sounding something like Battles' "Atlas", the music breaks down into a fanfare of traditional yet supercharged folk instrumentations; with drums, spoken word, strings in all their various forms, and the familiar smokey drawl of Matt Berninger's voice sitting snugly on top of subtle drum machines and synthesisers. Super ballads and sincerity.
Ian Dury & The Seven Seas Players - "Spasticus Autisticus" (version)
Material - "Over & Over"
Was (Not Was) - "Wheel Me Out"
Dinosaur - "Kiss Me Again"
Don Cherry - "I Walk"
Common Sense - "Voices Inside My Head"
Nicky Siano - "Move"
Indian Ocean - "School Bell/Tree House"
Review: Second time around for Joey Negro and Sean P's peerless collection of post-punk era New York club cuts, a compilation that proved hugely influential when it was first released way back in 2000. The track listing strangely omits one track present on the original release (the full 16-minute version of Steve Miller Band's "Macho City"), but otherwise it's a faithful reproduction. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the eccentric electrofunk of Yoko Ono's "Walking On Thin Ice" and P-funk influenced strut of Material's "Over And Over", to the skittish jazz-goes-dub disco bustle of Don Cherry's "I Walk" and the low-slung percussive voodoo of Nicky Siano's "Move". The undisputed master of NYC leftfield disco, Arthur Russell, is represented via cuts from Loose Joints, Dinosaur and Indian Ocean.
Review: It has been three years since we had an album from the mighty New Model Army. Plenty has changed about the world since- much of it not for the better. Reassuringly, though, this is equally if not more powerful an outing than its predecessor. In many ways, it's one of their strongest in some time, making intentions clear from the off with the loud, layered and textured tension builder "Passing Through" recalling acclaimed early albums. The outfit apparently quipped that for all their differences they share commonality in a love of bleak, cold, rugged landscapes typified by snow, rock and water. These influences can be clearly heard here. Even in quieter moments, such as "Hard Way", things couldn't feel more removed from a warm fire and comfortable room. It's a wild, almost primitive soundtrack to an adventure across a new yet familiar wilderness, with Justin Sullivan's vocals and compositions as a guide.
Review: The 21st Century has been quiet thus far for New Order, with only two full albums to date, and only an out-takes compilation in the last decade. Moreover, 'Music Complete' marks their first album to date without founding bassist Peter Hook, and the return of Gillian Gilbert to the ranks. Yet from this turbulence and inertia they've somehow managed to create a collection of songs that rank as their strongest set since 'Technique' in 1989. VIbrant, upbeat and colourful, yet driven by the same mix of electronic experimentation and effortless pop suss that characterised their '80s heyday, 'Music Complete' is the sound of a timeless and unique force newly revitalised.
Review: It's hard to think of many bands that manage to channel the spirit of End Days via tracks that sound so deliciously catchy and hooky. Given the current state of the world it's not hard to see, and hear, where they're coming from. The Canadian-American eight piece deliver powerhouse points with powerhouse tracks, "You'll Need A Backseat Driver" kicking things off as they mean to go on- stuck in the rear of a car driven by a petulant child. "Dreamlike And Rush On" is stadium-filling stuff, "Leather On The Seat" closes the record out with its quietest but arguably most commanding moment. By now the car theme should be pretty clear, but as titles like "Colossus Of Rhodes" and "Need Some Giants" suggest, it's less about motoring and more about the need to change, rise up and save society before it all comes crumbling down.
Review: Minneapolis trio and Domino Records project Night Moves delivers their third album, going some length to perfect a brand of poppy psychedelia. Since debuting in 2012 with the Colored Emotions, the band have honed their craft and created a version of what sophisticated, emotional modern pop music can be. And as we enter the summer of 2019, the band's chosen atmosphere oozes with a new sweetness and sound evocative of holidays past that still carry with the sentimentality of cherished memories. Highlights include the breeziness of "Recollections" and the classic disco meets Bee Gees-styled funk of "Waiting For The Symphony".
Review: Since debuting as Grouper back in 2005, Liz Harris has delivered a swathe of experimentalist albums that explore almost every aspect of ambient and drone music. Here she launches a new project, Nivhek, via an expansive double-album of sparse, atmospheric compositions that tend towards the epic. Really, it's two albums in one. The first slab of wax is entitled "After Its Own Death" and boasts a two-part, non-stop suite of tracks built around echoing choral vocals, dark electronics and blissful bells. It's alternately melancholic, blissful and grippingly intense. In contrast, "Walking In A Spiral Towards The House", the piece stretched across both sides of the second record, is breathtakingly beautiful - a meandering, soft focus trip through chiming, reverb-laden motifs and gentle music box melodies.