Review: There's definitely something in the water round Bristol way right now - the city currently seems to ooze punk spirit and has a habit of producing ferociously good acts, from the raw, gnarling guitars of Idles to the unfettered electronic juggernauts of Giant Swan. Those already familiar with Heavy Lungs will know this is another outfit to add to that list, with "Measure" their most complete and daring body of work to date. Opening on "Half Full", which builds atmosphere gradually, before the first ferocious chords drop the listener is already hooked, the moment of release is at once necessary and rather unexpected, setting the tone for a collection of songs that are as intelligently conceived as they are vital. From here we get "Self Worth", "T.O.T.B", and "(A Bit Of A) Birthday", spanning walls of white noise through to skudgy, loose, garage-y tones.
Review: The back catalogue of this mystical and mercurial German collective, numbering Messrs Moebius and Roedelius from Cluster as well as Neu's Michael Rother in their ranks. has always been frustrating only in its brevity, and with that in mind this live material from their heyday is as manna to krautrock enthusiasts - these at once meditative and exploratory voyages through inner space bear all the hallmarks that made their two studio efforts such evergreen portals to a fertile age of experimentation and inspiration, and an inspration to Eno and Bowie amongst a legion of others - Sehr kosmisch, indeed.
Review: Harriette "Hatchie" Pilbeam has been in the incubator of London label Heavenly for roughly two years now, with the label slowly establishing the artist before this debut with a slick run of 7" singles and promo material. Colliding breathy synth pop with reverb-drench folk, a touch of trip hop and good old-fashioned indie, Keepsake presents the debut opus from an emerging talent that's helping define what Shoegaze can be for 2019. Highlights include the Enya-like "Secret" and the melancholic two step beats of "Stay With Me". With touches of Boards Of Canada to be found in Hatchie's music too, there's a deep musical brain behind these beats and it should not be slept on. Check. It. Out.
Review: While he enjoyed a brief career as a musician in the 1960s, by the time he recorded debut album "Down On The Road By The Beach" in 1983 Steve Hiett was better known as one of the world's leading fashion photographers. In fact, it was at the suggestion of a Japanese gallery owner that he got back in the studio to record what has long been regarded as an impossible-to-find Balearic gem. Hiett's reverb and delay-laden Peter Green style guitar passages take centre stage throughout, winding in and out of languid grooves and ambient electronics to create what some have called "the ultimate desert island disc" - a record of such lazy, sun-kissed beauty that it sounds tailor made for drowsy days waking up on the beach.
Review: The mission statement of this duo in the run-up to 'Cascades' was apparently to create a distinctly Australian-sounding album. It's debatable whether these glistening guitar curlicues and reverb-drenched plateaus are necessarily Antipodean, but they certainly make the chill of British winter seem a long way away. Now relocated to Brooklyn, the duo deal out a dreamlike collection of synth-gorged and texturally rich soundscapes with melody and melancholy to spare. Oceanically inclined yet staring at the stars, songs like 'Catch The Wind' and the rapturous title cut are sure to satisfy admirers of Tame Impala fans with a longing for electronic sophistication, not to mention a lot more folks besides.
Review: Feisty female foursome Hinds impressed with their 2015 debut album Leave Me Alone, so hopes are naturally high for this follow-up. It's certainly a confident and cheery affair - musically at least - with the Spanish band flitting between fuzzy, rockier workouts, cuts that touch on classic indie-rock tropes, and eccentric guitar pop, all held together by the band's punk-influenced vocal delivery (half-sung, half-shouted, almost always involving multiple members at once) and a deliciously "do-it-yourself" production style that largely eschews modern studio trickery. The result is a fresh, thrill-a-minute set that should see their stock rise even further.
Alain Maclean - "Talking Judgement Day Blues" (2:55)
David Crosby - "Orleans" (1:35)
Buddy Holly - "Love Is Strange" (3:12)
After Dinner - "Paradise Of Replica " (Gods Waiting Room part 2) (2:47)
Lullaby Movement - "Ru-Ru (Sleep Little Baby)" (3:49)
Jeff Bridges & Keefus Ciancia - "It's In Every One Of Us" (exclusive track) (6:26)
Song Sung - "I'm Not In Love" (6:22)
Neo Maya - "I Won't Hurt You" (Gods Waiting Room part 3) (2:20)
BP Fallon & David Holmes - "Henry McCullough" (exclusive track) (4:55)
Documenta - "Love As A Ghost " (5:25)
Keith Fullerton Whitman - "Stereo Music For Acoustic Guitar, Buchla Music Box 100, Hewlett Packard Model 236 Oscillator, Electric Guitar & Computer" (part 1) (2:41)
Eat Lights Become Lights - "Into Forever" (Gods Waiting Room part 4) (5:25)
Geese - "Andrew Parsnip" (exclusive track) (3:54)
Die Hexen - "Gloomy Sunday" (exclusive track) (3:11)
David Holmes & Jon Hopkins - "Elsewhere Anchises " (feat Stephen Rea - exclusive track) (4:53)
Review: Treading an eclectic path through a twenty year career that's taken in everything from Detroit techno to vintage French ye-ye, from breakbeat-driven floor-fillers to krautrock epiphanies, David Holmes has made his name predominantly as an exemplary crate-digger and aesthete, whether soundtracking Steven Soderbergh movies or dishing our albums of his own. Thus, it comes as no surprise that this compilation - marking something of a personal journey for Holmes - is reflective of his status as an exemplary man of taste. Whether dispensing classics by the likes of David Crosby or Buddy Holly, unreleased original solo material or killer obscurities from everyone from modular synthesis cultist Keith Fullerton Whitman to Hollywood legend Jeff Bridges, this stylish nocturnal travelogue puts the listener resolutely in safe hands.
Review: Julia Holter herself describes this new album as "the cacophony of the mind in a melting world," and it provides the American singer, songwriter with her first studio album since 2015's Have You In My Wilderness. Aviary is an intrigue to say the least and it's hard not to feel as if a horror-thematic runs throughout its 11 tracks, with moments of temporary insanity and distress intertwining with hair-raising spots a ghostly allure, and it's as if any lightness in the album has had to pass its way through a thicket of darkness first. There's much dissonance to be heard here too but in a pleasantly unsettling way akin to listening to an orchestra tune itself, and with all the deep and meaningful aspects behind Holter's inspirations, it's a hell of a ride.
Review: It's been ten years now since this Southend-birthed collection of stylish hoodlums were one of the most divisive and derided bands in NME-land - either ludicrous clothes horses or savvy garage-rock experts depending on who you asked. Yet listening to 'Strange House' after all these years, the eyeliner and the big hair may have largely departed, but this overexcited and uncompromising debut still makes for a bracing and extremely invigorating listen. Vaudevillian flourishes, in-the-red savagery, trashy thrills and even a dash of electronic experimentation make this a document whose black-clad brio and youthful gung-ho spirit seems paradoxically built to last.
Review: Hot Chip are back! The coolest dudes since Devo return like a monkey with a miniature cymbal with their seventh full length album. With vocoding effects layered over the sweet tone of Alexis Taylor's voice referencing all matter of contemporary and retro-active pop and trance sensibilities, this album once again sees Hot Chip at the front of pioneering, friendly and avant garde pop music. Produced by the late Philippe Zdar (one half of Cassius) - also responsible for applying award winning touches to albums by Phoenix and Cat Power, Domino is calling the record "a celebration of joy but recognises the struggle it can take to get to that point of happiness". Our tips: album opener "Melody Of Love" and the '80s trance-pop that is "Hungry Child".
Review: In The Birthday Party, These Immortal Souls and Crime And The City Solution, Rowland S. Howard set out his stall as not only a rock 'n' roll renaissance man but one of the most startlingly inventive and fiery guitarists of a generation, developing the innovation of players like Ron Asheton and Tom Verlaine in his own jagged and idiosyncratic manner. "Pop Crimes", sadly, marks something of an epitaph for Howard, yet it also stands alone as a dusky, laconic and affecting collection of Lynchian serenades and torch songs. A fine testimony to a unique talent.