Review: It's hard not to see this offering from hallucinogenic and highly visual psych-rockers The Flaming Lips as a "here's what you could have won" release. And that's "here's what you could have won had you been able to attend this performance of one of our most treasured albums in one of the world's most aesthetically astounding venues". FOMO abounds, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a proper bucket list muso haunt, setting gigs halfway up a Colorado mountain. Throw in live orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, and you've got yourself a truly life-affirming evening. Even on record, there's a tangible difference between the sonics here and the original, still it's an incredibly beautiful and grand album. Perhaps most pronounced during the heart-rendering string sweep of opener "Race For The Prize" (expect shivers), tracks such as "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" and, of course, "Waitin' For A Superman" feel as though they have finally found their home.
Review: For the younger generation maybe it's Wolfmother, and for everyone else it's Black Sabbath, but for a slightly ironic psych rock band that's here to be taken seriously, with a pinch of motorik fun, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs bring home the bacon. King Of Cowards provides the north eastern Brits with arguably their most rock solid record that comes in at six tracks large, in a suitably punky pink vinyl pressing. It can sometimes be few and far between that perfect place, or band, that has the ability to capture the visceral vibe, howl and punch of heavy rock but there's no denying these guys do it with devil horns all the way.
Review: Since their early heyday of mammoth pop hits, electronic-indie duo MGMT seemed to sound gradually more and more conflicted, unsure whether to continue producing stadium-scale hooks or follow their eccentricities. It seems, with their fourth full-length 'Little Dark Age', that they've opted for the latter - sounding all the more confident and cohesive for it. 'Little Dark Age' sees the pair channeling their synthetic poppy psychedelia into their darkest, most serious and interesting songwriting yet. Anybody who panned 2013's self-titled album or 2010's 'Congratulations' should be pleasantly surprised by this return to form and new-found resolve. 'Little Dark Age' is a far cry from MGMT's definitive debut, but it's to the band's credit that exploring the more weird and wonderful corners of their pop-sensibilities has worked so well.
Review: Romania's Rodion GA is by no means a new name. The founding and only remaining member, Rodion Rosca, has been making music since the Communism-oppressed times of the 70's and 80's, where psychedelic sounds were by no means appreciated! It's only recently that Rosca's forward thinking music has truly seen the light of day, and following a retrospective on Strut, the equally on-point BBE present this 20 track selection of long-lost material! This stuff is seriously out-there, and each track brings something different to the table. From the drum-machine, Eastern vibes of "Acvila Fragment", to the gnarly, guitar-thrashing electronic of "Cosmic Game, and even the post-punk oddities of tracks like "Paradox", there's something in hear for all diggers and wax junkies. Recommended, of course.
Review: It's hard to believe The Orielles are still so young when you consider their position as mainstays of British alternative indie-surf-rock-pop business. Then you remember how they grabbed attention while still in school, bursting from the former mill town of Halifax, West Yorkshire, to widespread acclaim, and refused to look back since. On "Disco Volador" they show just how much versatility they've mastered along the way. "Bobbi's Second World", for example, is plucked straight from the Tom Tom Club playbook - funk fuelled, good time mayhem. "Whilst The Flowers Look" is more in line with the stuff that first won everyone over, although perhaps more complex. "A Material Mistake" ushers in siren-like moodiness, underlaid with guitar licks and warm strings to combat the icier sections. Those who think pop music needs more ideas might want to take note.
"Do You Have Any Trouble With Your Neighbours?" (2:45)
"If You Cut Off My Head, What Do I Say? Me & My Head Or Me & My Body?" (2:34)
Dioz Delirium (4:13)
Everything Is Always Happening (4:18)
The Bouncing Head (2:48)
Music Box (outro) (0:49)
Review: Re-imagining and reconstructing Philippe Sarde's original source material, Swedish trio Death & Vanilla have retrospectively scored Roman Polanski's cult 1976 thriller 'The Tenant'. Recorded from a live performance at the Cinemascore Film Festival, the repeated hypnotic phrases, poised vibraphone and organ parts and dissonant soundscapes perfectly match the film's themes of paranoia and deluded hallucination. The band's style - akin to Broadcast & Radiophonic Workshop - is cleverly deceptive in sounding simultaneously new and old. It pulls from modernity by dipping into electronica and mesmeric trip-hop style phrases, while the group's instrumentation and respect for the source material makes their music sound of the film's time. Most importantly, this rendition of 'The Tenant' is one of those uncommon gems of a soundtrack whose strength of musicianship lets it stand up on its own as a piece of music just as much as it does an accompaniment to its film counterpart.
Review: While the disco treats of New Zealand group Orchestra Of Spheres having been around for almost a decade now - the released their first album in 2010 - it's only in 2018 with the release of Mirror do they draw such praise from the Guardian who have compared their style of funk to what came out of New York's post punk scene of the '80s. But there's more than that to what they do, with the band's hippy disposition taking in a frenetic array of genres like kwaito and shangaan electro ("Summer Fungus" & "Omni Omni") while more dancey pop numbers like "Chimes" and can be found alongside darker alternative indie cuts like "Ata", "Black & White" and it's 10-minute long opening title track. Orchestra Of Spheres' Mirror: take a look.
Review: If there's a duo who know how to come up with a name, it's Holydrug Couple, and Hyper Super Mega couldn't sound any better. There's a lot of oohing and cooing on this LP, however it's the group's timid and sweet touches that hit home most. There's a friendliness to the music, with "Forever End" the album's undeniable hit number, with echoes of Elton John piano rock (you'll hear it) there to be heard in "Ikebana Telephone Line" too. Further in you'll find the more dreamy, shoegaze-y and 90's pop colours of "I'll Only Say This" and "Easy", to the change in mood that is the urban, danse noir effort "Lucifer's Coat". Take in some more lo-fi synth of "Western Shade" and there's no playing down this album is what Holydrug Couple say it is.
Review: Kevin Parker is a real enigma of a musician. The brains behind the rightly celebrated and ever-surprising Tame Impala, he's never one for delivering quite what you expect, while still understanding that one of the most important things in music is striking a balance between the familiarity disciples need, and the expressive exploration that can prick the ears of the previously uninitiated.
Album number four, "The Slow Rush", certainly adopts a different outlook to previous undertakings. It also more than lives up to its name. It's smooth, tripped out (perhaps not so surprising on the latter front) and strikingly void of those highs that seem to offer the aural equivalent to some opiate-amphetamine blend. But we don't miss out. Instead, we're given permutations of soul, prog rock and acid house, perhaps making for the most expansive record this guy has been responsible for.
Review: Vinyl Lovers brings you the reissue of Traffic's 'Mr Fantasy'. Riding fairly high on the success of their singles, the band, whose members included Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason, released its 1967 debut LP, which also soon shot up to the number 16 slot on the UK albums chart. Aided by their use of unusual instruments (Winwood played the organ, Wood played flute and Mason the sitar) they created a hybrid of pop/blues rock with a sound that was somewhat unique for the time and which soon made them international superstars. This deluxe reissue includes 5 bonus tracks and a poster.
Review: INTRODUCING: The Shadracks, a three-piece jangle straight out of south eastern England. Harmonic distortion and an upbeat take on swinging, garage rock is how the band are making their name, with the surf rock of "Corinna" a highlight alongside the rolling drums and punky vocals of "Every Inch Of My Mind". With the band still full of a youthful, romantic angst, their debut opus sees the troupe scramble together a playful melee of amped guitars and loose drums to fit that perfect vintage feel.
Review: Smokey, heavy, whiskey-soaked and dramatic, Manchester's The Underground Youth provide us with a new album following the two they dropped in 2017. There's something incredibly UK about the band and their sound, which comes with a touch of Madchester about them too for good measure. Album opener "Sins" is about as drastic as anything Nick Cave could come up with, while there's echoes of Joy Division in Craig Dyer's voice throughout, while simultaneously there's something undeniably post-punk about the band's radical production. Edgy, raw and stone-faced yet full of flavour and deep seated in the malaise of melancholic shoegaze, this album title sets it all up really: Montage Images Of Lust & Fear.
Review: Spearheading Bristol-based psych and art-rock outfit Yama Warashi is Japanese artist Yoshino Shigihara. The name of the band translated to English means something along the lines of 'small child-like spirit which lives in the mountains' and Boiled Moon presents the group's second album following the equally celestial Moon Egg. The music delivers in equal parts worldly selections of folk, rock, synth and vocal expressions with "Jyomon Doki Doki" in particular reminiscent of classic Battles' track "Atlas". The album is a lovely walk through a psychedelic landscape of cosmic sensibilities and abstract pop that will most likely have you rushing to find your Yellow Magic Orchestra records soon after.