Review: Starting life as a side-project of Cave psych-voyager Cooper Crain, Bitchin Bajas have quickly made their presence felt as experts in both inner and outer space-the drone-based and meditative strains of the three releases they've embarked on to date see them following in a lineage of electronic repetition that takes in such visionary figures as Terry Riley, Harmonia and Eno. The tracks on this fourth release function as a pathway to altered states, yet also work beautifully on an ambient level, connecting the dots between the now and the '70s, yet also the earth and the stars.
Review: Singer-songwriting wrapped up in the dusty acid wash denim of Americana doesn't really get more authentic than what Bill Callahan of Silver Spring, Maryland, can deliver. His latest LP, a mass saunter through 20 tracks of smokey spoken word and lightly sung lyrics, falls upon a picturesque bevvy of humble and acoustic instrumentation. Callahan's songs croon with romance, metaphor, and folky yarns that find their place among fingerpicked guitars and light melodies that enjoy a contrast with the darker musings of Callahan's own world of experience and storytelling. It presents the artist with his first studio in some five years, and a sound that is looser than a typical Bill Callahan missive but full of melodrama that centres around life and death. Our pick, Callahan's cover of the Carter Family's "Lonesome Valley".
Review: Chicago's chilled out space rock collective Cave have been puttin' funk in their step for around 15 years now, with local label Drag City a trusted home to their most recent music. Having released their last two records, this third effort provides their first in five years which delivers yet again an instrumental bevy of hypnotic jams, maintaining their penchant for psychedelia that touches on '70s inspired krautrock, island percussion and of course a gluttonous amount of free jazz fusion. A recording spate in Chile has no doubt added some spice to the six tracks here with "Sana Yago" cooler than strollin' down the neon streets of south-side Chicago itself. Listen up!
Review: Bristol space rock band Flying Saucer Attack have a legacy that reaches back to the early 90s, having roamed between Domino, Drag City and VHF Records over their long and winding career. This latest album comes no less than twelve years after their last release, and it finds the band on monolithic form as their melding of drone and shoegaze styles swells outwards. At times the guitar-driven sound can feel delicate and fragile, while at others it bears down with a claustrophobic might, but it never dulls in its impact even for a band who have been doing this for more than twenty years.
Review: There's something uniquely Japanese and slightly off-kilter about the pop-making prowess of Eiko Ishibashi, a singer-songwriter, improvisational drummer, pianist and all-round experimentalist that counts Editions Mego and Oren Ambarchi's Black Truffle as labels she has released on. She returns to Drag City, an all time Chicago label famous for records by Pavement and Stereolab to more recently music from Ty Segall and the all-talented John Mulaney. Ishibashi's music here, however, sways from heavy industrial beats to future, funky and avant pop numbers like "Iron Veil". It's a record that will take some getting used to but there's no denying you will get used to it too; if you can keep up with its modernity that comes from way out leftfield.
Review: For all her otherworldly talents, even hardcore fans of Joanna Newsom will likely be relieved to hear that 'Divers' marks a very slight move back from the artistic brink compared to 2010's 'Have One On Me', an exhausting triple-album embarrassment of riches which few ever made it though in one go. Yet there's no hint of compromise on the deliriously thrilling 'Divers', despite its slightly more concise approach - the elegant yet baroque wordplay, ornate and innovative arrangements and Newsom's unique voice are all present and correct - yet more, these emotive and engaging ditties may mark the most accessible thing this iconoclastic and mercurial artist has thus far summoned from the ether.