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: 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: 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.
Review: The almost indecently prolific Ty Segall has hammered out a total of 24 albums in his various guises since 2008, including eight of this own, but such are the radiant charms of Manipulator that it would seem this is the point he volleys forth from cult status to the realm of era-straddling, guitar-swinging rock god in the old-fashioned yet twenty-first century tradition of Jack White or Anton Newcombe. For although all of the uniformly zesty and infectious ditties that make up 'Manipulator' sound spookily beamed in from the '70s, forming a glorious barrage of licentious glam stomp, garage freakout, Stonesy psych swagger and interstellar balladry, the coherence and charisma of this album make time travel seem like an extremely attractive option.
Review: Ty Segall, one of the leading lights and most hard-working artists of America's west coast garage scene, perfectly balances quality and quantity with 'Freedom's Goblin', his tenth studio album under his own name (include his live records, aliases and collaborations, and the total body of work effectively doubles). Having seemingly ditched the songwriting rules he had set himself on previous albums, 'Freedom's Goblin' sees Ty Segall at his most explosive and full-throttle, inventively exploring the many avenues of sub-genres of rock and psychedelia. Consisting of 19 ironclad songs that clock in at nearly eighty minutes, this is an expansive and exhilarating album that never becomes tiring. The wild combination of flawless production (co-engineered by the legendary Nirvana producer Steve Albini) and Segall's balance of raw power and melodic sensibility, makes 'Freedom's Goblin' another astoundingly high-calibre addition to an already colossal catalogue.