Review: By the time you reach the muffled, eccentric opening bars of "Tenderness", just past halfway on "Anak Ko", Jay Som's remit is clear. The Los Angeles singer-songwriter has left her shoes, or rather shoegaze, behind. This time she's walking barefoot through a lo-fi musical tapestry, baring soles and heartbreak while musing on the importance of self-value. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the head-noddingly agreeable "Nighttime Drive" to the jerking, grunge-y "Peace Out", it's equal parts gorgeous and effortlessly- not to mention breathily- cool, sexy and surprising. Perhaps what's most reassuring, though, is that there's every chance this could all come across as affected and a little too self-aware. Nothing could be further from the truth from what we can hear- an honest work representing the next step in the evolution of a truly exciting American indie talent.
Review: From the moment opening track "Giving Up" hits you with its timeless pop rock romanticism you're immediately transported to some bygone era, when the charts really meant something, everything on the radio inspired boy-meeting-girl, vice versa, or indeed non-binary-meeting-non-binary. You know - when things were right with the world. Dangerously close to pastiche, the quality of the songwriting and infectious instrumentation elevate this second long form from Chicago's greatest hope(s) to a whole other level. Listen to the brass work on "Rhododendron", a jaunty walk in the park after that surprisingly good first date. "Valleys (My Love)" anthemic chorus and lilting strings. The crooning guitars of "Before I Know It". These tracks pay homage to golden era love songs, when mainstream was experimental because so little had come before. And yet they all stand up today - mesmerising proof that fashions come and go, but style is omnipresent.
Review: If there were still justice in the digital age, and artists really got what was owed to them exposure-wise, Alex Cameron would be a safe bet for leftfield pop sensation. A multi-faceted songwriter, his previous two albums took us through a horror show of horrible characters and their innermost thoughts, twin roads that have somehow veered onto another course altogether for "Miami Memory". Here a much friendlier face is donned. Nevertheless, opener "Stepdad" makes intentions clear, with uptempo keyboard lines invoking the emotional qualities of mid-80s Prince. "Far From Born Again" tells the story of a "her" who's making bad choices, and the potential fallout of that, set to a Bruce Springsteen-sounding chorus, the likes of which can be found again on "Divorce". Not holding back, but instead holding a light up to a different side of his personality, it's Cameron's most positive to date and his best.
Review: When is a psychedelic rock album not a psychedelic rock album? Anyone who has quickly scrawled answer-on-postcard reads "when it's Temples" can go straight to the top of the class. Evidently you have been paying attention over the course of the British three piece's last two full length records. It's not that things don't sound pretty out there and trippy. All the elements to achieve that are here, but the accessibility is ramped up to the level of a pop album, with arrangements owing more to traditional song craft than anything particularly experimental. Don't read that as criticism, though. Tracks like "Not Quite The Same" are huge, proud, instantly catchy but far from obvious numbers. "You're Either On Something" thumps and lunges through its various permutations, "Atomise" pares everything back, luring us in, before opening up into a frantic, grunge-metal guitar line. We can only imagine the fun they had recording it.
Review: When bands hit album four, two things can happen - or three. Some suffer from a crisis of creativity, opting to regurgitate or, worse still, stagnate. Others opt for reinvention, with as many getting it right as going well off-piste, alienating faithful fans in the process. The lucky ones, meanwhile, hit the nail on the head with their most accomplished and complete work to date. Consider Frankie Cosmos among the lucky ones, then, not that luck had much to do with it. Recorded in their New York hometown, everything about the record feels comfortable in that there's nothing forced, and yet it engages and grabs from the off. Lilting, lo-fi rock 'n' roll odes to love, life and the genre itself, anyone who's ever wondered what Cate Le Bon might sound like having a pancake breakfast with The Orielles should grab a seat at this table.
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.