I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (6:25)
The Sound (4:11)
This Must Be My Dream (4:11)
She Lays Down (3:38)
Review: That title is an eyebrow-raiser, yet still more surprising about this second album are the chances that cocky, controversial 1975 frontman Matt Healey has been prepared to take with the sound that his band rode to enormous success on via their debut. Certainly this album may largely sound custom-designed for radio airplay, yet within this framework Healey has moved from the guitar band swagger of yore to a more emotionally charged reinvention that throws '80s-style hooks, innovative production trickery and his mixture of chutzpah and charm into the fray to create a vibrant and unexpected art-pop melange.
Review: This New York City based duo comprises Che Chen and Rick Brown, largely on guitar and drums respectively, and their inspiringly unclassifiable sound, influenced by Indian music and Mauritanian guitar work alongside the likes of The Velvet Underground and Bert Jansch, weaves a mantric tapestry that's as minimal as it is expansively majestic. These four lengthy excursions whir the listener into a drone-fuelled and raga-infused frenzy that's as likely to appeal to fans of Sun City Girls and Tony Conrad, packing an elemental charge that's as richly invigorating as any summer soundtrack you care to mention.
Review: Ziggy Stardust's yet unheard instrumental album after he returned from a trip on his Gemini spaceship. Not much is known of the shadowy producer (yes, despite the compelling pitch we gave you before!) as yet, but this just adds to the mystery surrounding the release as a whole. From hazy balearica to blunted hip-hop beats, deep country-infused exotica (if we've ever heard such a thing!) to lo-slung psychedelia - it's a captivating journey from start to finish. Will certainly appeal to fans of life in the slow lane, best presented recently by Marcus Worgull and Motor City Drum Ensemble's Vermont project or pretty much anything on London's Claremont 56 imprint. Highly recommended. Tip!
Review: Fiercely righteous, intensely passionate and politically driven, the Atlanta-birthed Algiers are carving out a unique niche for themselves with a brand of gospel-punk that is as experimental as it in incandescent. Noiserock shapes, electro grooves share space with startlingly rich and powerful vocals from Franklin James Fisher. Emotionally charged ditties like 'Blood' and 'Black Eunuch are as influenced by Nina Simone as industrial hip-hop troupe dalek, and the resulting record makes Algiers a powerful argument against anyone who claims that modern music is apolitical and the art of the protest song is dead.
The Cycle/The Spiral: Time To Go Down Slowly (5:41)
Review: Anyone bemoaning the lack of ire-igniting political invective and potent protest records amidst the tension and uncertainty of 2017 should look no further than Algiers, whose follow-up to their blue-touchpaper igniting debut is a thing of floor-shaking intensity and cerebrally stimulating potency. A electrifying and diverse musical palette that extends from post-punk and gritty Gun Club-esque rock 'n' roll to soul, hip hop and even John Carpenter style soundtrack stylings acts as a backdrop to the feverish diatribes against oppression and injustice of vocalist Franklin James Fisher. Defying expectation to stand proud as a genre-elusive and fiercely uncompromising call to arms, 'The Underside Of Power' is a forward-thinking work of maverick malevolence and thrilling intensity.
Review: With a momentum built initially by word-of-mouth alone and further abetted by a surprise Mercury win, Alt-J have built a formidable reputation for themselves as no less than a Radiohead-in-waiting, with a melodious sleight-of-hand allied to a questing and mischievously experimental side. This Is All Yours, despite seeing the band slimming down from a four-piece to a three-piece after the departure of bassist Gwil Sainsbury, sees their fresh and inventive approach showing no signs of abating, with vocal textures and rhythmic invention locking horns with samples and melancholic charm to create an arresting yet nuanced record with its gaze firmly set forward.
Cameron Allen & Graham Bidstrup - "Bikini Atoll" (3:40)
Foot & Mouth - "I Want My Mummy" (4:15)
Review: An intriguing confection put together by two Antipodean crate-diggers with an ear for the eccentricities and heroic creative travails of a generation of yore, 'Midnight Spares' chronicles a predominantly '80s era in which bedroom musicians took a post-punk DIY sensibility to create work that still rings out with originality and ingenuity decades on. Collected from manifold unusual sources, this compendium takes in early synth-pop, menacing lo-fi soundtrack work, a stray emigre member of The Flying Pickets, and even an early foray into recording from the members of legendary Ozpunk scamps God. Lurking somewhere between the spirit of John Peel and the world of outsider art, the resulting assemblage is a must-have for chroniclers of the weird and wonderful.
Hjalmar Larusson & Jonbjorn Gislason - "Jomsvikingarimur - Yta Eigi Feldi Ror." (1:15)
Julianna Barwick - "Forever" (5:30)
Koreless - "Last Remnants" (4:22)
Odesza - "How Did I Get Here" (instrumental) (2:00)
Anois - "A Noise" (4:10)
Samaris - "Gooa Tungl" (4:08)
Olafur Arnalds - "RGB" (4:36)
Rival Consoles - "Pre" (5:14)
Jai Paul - "Jasmine" (demo) (4:11)
Four Tet - "Lion" (Jamie Xx remix) (6:52)
James Blake - "Our Love Comes Back" (3:39)
Spooky Black - "Pull" (4:13)
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld - "And Still They Move" (2:55)
Olafur Arnalds - "Say My Name" (feat Arnor Dan) (5:38)
Kiasmos - "Orgoned" (5:57)
Olafur Arnalds - "Kinesthesia" (1:44)
Hjaltalin - "Ethereal" (6:32)
David Tennant - "Undone" (3:51)
Review: Icelandic classical, experimental and soundtrack composer Olafur Arnalds steps away from the loops and Broadchurch OSTs to conjure yet another sublime LNT saga. Carefully balancing between contemporary odysseys ("Jomsvikingarimur"), dense futuristic electronic weaves ("Last Remnants"), fuzzy 22nd century pop ("A Noise") sludgy cosmic funk ("Jasmine") and introspective soul ("Our Love Comes Back"), Olafur blows wave after woozy wave of soft sonic conjurations in a way that's broad, detailed and cleverly considered. Good night.
Review: Arte Moderno was a short-lived outfit from the Canary Islands who scored an underground dancefloor hit in 1982 with the spaced-out punk-funk/new wave/dub disco grooves of "Ninette En New York" before all but disappearing. Here, we finally get a chance to hear what else they were up to, as Musica Cabeza - the debut album they recorded but then shelved in 1982, finally gets a release. It's a quietly impressive set, all told, offering up tracks that doff a cap to the likes of Talking Heads, Woo, Konk and Bauhaus, while also offering a fresh take on electric/electronic post-punk fusion. Had it been released when it was recorded there's no doubt it would have become an underground classic; now that it's finally seen the light of day, we can confirm it's every bit as good as we'd hoped for.
Review: The Wigan-birthed sage Richard Ashcroft has taken his fair share of flak over the years for his messianic tendencies, unflinchingly epic songwriting style and fervent self-belief, yet when it's in the service of albums like 'These People', it seems more than a little churlish to object to any of these attributes. Displaying an electronic freshness that finely complements the string-swathed widescreen sweep for which he's become known, these impassioned ditties are rarely notable for their subtlety, yet Ashcroft's rich baritone and raw charisma serve to elevate them to new plateaus of emotion and intensity. Write this fella off at your peril.
Review: Celebrating 50 years of one of the most definitive fusion records ever made, Now Again present the most fitting remaster Axelrod's critically acclaimed debut album Song Of Innocence has ever had. An immense piece of work that pays homage to William Blake and brought together nodes and notions of rock, classical, funk, psychedelic and boogaloo, this reissue comes straight from the original masters with engineering and consultation from Axelrod's production partner H B Barnum, original keyboardist Don Randi, his widow Terri and producer T-Ray. Still as complex and cosmic and sounding better than ever.
Review: Julien Baker's debut 'Sprained Ankle' garnered critical acclaim on its release last year for its impressive writing. Considering Baker's age, at only 22 years old she's already creating worlds of stunning dream-pop with a craftsmanship that could stir envy in more experienced songwriters. 'Turn Out The Lights' showcases her talent even further, exploring a melancholy world against a backdrop of sparse echoing instrumentation. The moments of subtle intensity are striking, such as the album's cinematic opening 'Over', whose stirring strings and sparse piano pour seamlessly into the next track 'Appointments. Baker's voice is controlled and her harmonies are arresting, and she uses expansive vocal layering to build intensity, pulling back just before it overbears the listener. This impressive second milestone in Baker's work is heartfelt, cathartic and more than impressive.
Review: Lewis' gentle and bewitching L'Amour, which came complete with a bizarre backstory involving the disappearance of the blonde-haired would-be-matinee-idol on its sleeve, was one of the surprise delights of the year. Yet the release of the hitherto unsuspected follow-up Romantic Times, which was originally recorded in 1985, only adds to the mystique surrounding this off-kilter auteur. The abstract croon and expressionistic mood may remain, yet the pastel shades and beachside calm of his earlier effort are gone, replaced by brooding atmosphere and vocals that betray a troubled soul beneath the luxurious veneer. Residing somewhere between lounge lizard thrills and outsider art chills, Romantic Times is a portrait of a true one-off.