New Music Friday 22 February – What to listen to

Looking forward to some heavy post-punk guitars from Drenge this week, alongside a new album from Sleaford Mods and a bit of techno from Modeselektor, among others. I’ll pick out the best to review during the week and report back.

Drenge - Strange Creatures album cover

Drenge – Strange Creatures

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Sleaford Mods- Eton Alive album cover

Sleaford Mods– Eton Alive

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Modeselektor - Who Else album cover

Modeselektor – Who Else

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Teeth of the Sea - Wraith album cover

Teeth of the Sea – Wraith

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Feels - Post Earth album cover

Feels – Post Earth

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Du Blonde - Lung Bread For Daddy album cover

Du Blonde – Lung Bread For Daddy

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Pom Poko - Birthday album cover

Pom Poko – Birthday

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The Young Gods - Data Mirage Tangram album cover

The Young Gods – Data Mirage Tangram

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Desperate Journalist - In Search Of The Miraculous album cover

Desperate Journalist – In Search Of The Miraculous

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Gary Clark Jr. - This Land album cover

Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

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Snow Palms - Everything Ascending EP cover

Snow Palms – Everything Ascending (EP)

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15 February releases – Reviewed and rated

Electro-pop featuring strongly again this week, with Ladytron and Methyl Ethel producing some impressive stuff. Those with a predisposition to punk-pop should check out Lazybones while hip-hop fans will enjoy Czarface meets Ghostface. However trip-hop shoegaze epic Fifteen from SPC ECO wins out. Sample playlist below, though the album of the week isn’t on Spotify yet.

SPC ECO - Fifteen album cover

SPC ECO – Fifteen

A beautiful blend of shoegaze and trip-hop from former Curve member Dean Garcia and his daughter.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

Listen on Bandcamp

Ladytron - Ladytron album cover

Ladytron – Ladytron

Some outstanding numbers in this electro-pop, new wave release. Greater consistency, or trimming some of the excess fat, could have seen it with a much higher rating.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Lazybones - Bang! Bang! EP cover

Lazybones – Bang! Bang! (EP)

An immensely fun power punk pop blast that shows great promise from this Brighton trio.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Czarface - Czarface Meets Ghostface album cover

Czarface – Czarface Meets Ghostface

Some smart hip-hop in this collaboration from Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and Czarface, which also features another member of the Clan.

Rating: 7/10

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Methyl Ethel - Triage album cover

Methyl Ethel – Triage

A competent and sometimes entrancing album from the Australian art rockers, but suffers from inconsistency.

Rating: 6.5/10Read full review

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Pye Corner Audio - Hollow Earth album cover

Pye Corner Audio – Hollow Earth

Rich electronic dreamscapes with elements of tunes and the occasional beat thrown in, reminiscent of Boards of Canada at times. Much prefer their other incarnation as Head Technician

Rating: 6.5/10

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Perfect Son - Cast album cover

Perfect Son – Cast

More 80s-influenced electronic work here. There are some great tracks, but the album feels somehow a little soulless.

Rating 6.5/10

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Theon Cross- Fyah album cover

Theon Cross– Fyah

Some nice recollections of last year’s Sons of Kemet album ‘Your Queen is a Reptile’, in which Cross’s Tuba work played an integral role, but Fyah just make me want to listen to that again.

Rating: 6/10

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Swmrs - Berkeley's On Fire album cover

Swmrs – Berkeley’s On Fire

Straight out indie rock that is hugely enjoyable to listen to, but at the same time instantly forgettable.

Rating: 6/10

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Piroshka - Brickbat album cover

Piroshka – Brickbat

Something of a 90s indie supergroup, featuring former members of Lush and Elastica, and feels firmly rooted in that era. This album struggled to provide more than the occasional moment of interest.

Rating: 6/10

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Stats - Other People's Lives album cover

Stats – Other People’s Lives

Dance and pop with the occasional bit of funk. Singer sounds a bit like Gary Newman at times. Doesn’t set the heart racing

Rating: 6/10

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Yann Tiersen - All album cover

Yann Tiersen – All

Piano-heavy neoclassical work with the occasional bit of electronic noodling. Paints some nice textures but falls far short of being a masterpiece.

Rating: 6/10

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Album review: Methyl Ethel – Triage

Methyl Ethel - Triage album cover

The phrase art-rock normally fills me with fear, but I was pleasantly surprised by the third album from Australian band Methyl Ethel. Triage, is by no means a perfect album, but there was enough in there to keep you wanting more.

Highlights for me were probably opener Ruiner, which seems to have been influenced by Florence + The Machine and ticks along nicely in a way that unwittingly draws you in, while Trip the Mains is full on 80s guitar and synth-fest that develops well despite some slightly off-putting discordant notes.

Top track I think is Hip Horror, which features a great uptempo groove, accompanied by a very addictive piano line.

There are some other decent works on here, including the organ and funky bass of Scream Whole and the Pretenders-infused Real Tight, but there are also some tunes that really don’t take you anywhere and potentially have you reaching for the skip button.

I’ve actually downgraded this album’s rating slightly during it’s second listen for the review, mainly due to the inconsistencies across it. Still worth a listen though.

Release date: 15 February 2019

Rating: 6.5/10

Standout track: Hip Horror

For fans of:

  • Florence + The Machine
  • Ladytron
  • Elder Island

Listen on Spotify

Album review: Ladytron – Ladytron

Ladytron - Ladytron album cover

Borrowing heavily from new wave, 80s synth and a touch of 90s rave, Ladytron return after more than seven years with an incessantly catchy collection of electro-pop tunes that have that special something about them – in most places.

The self-titled Ladytron album takes a little time to hit its stride with Until the Fire enjoyable enough but failing to develop as much as you might anticipate. Conversely single from last year The Island, featuring huge 80s-style synths, manages to build just at the right moment to avoid you losing interest in the track.

Things get significantly better after this point with Tower of Glass, a catchy head-nodder with some intricate organ work and the vocals of lead vocalist Helen Marnie standing out in particular.

The upward trend continues with Far From Home, which starts off a little Human League but that addictive synth track and pop beat end up taking you somewhere else entirely.

Highlight of the album for me was Deadzone, which employs some great vocal structures and layers of atmospherics against an uptempo beat, building to a delicious crescendo.

At 13 tracks and 53 minutes long, this album isn’t exactly of epic length, but it did feel that the last few tracks could have been trimmed and you would not have noticed the difference. Had the album stopped with the moreish You’ve Changed everybody would be left very happy. As it is Horrorscope, The Mountain and Tomorrow is Another Day have some noticeable moments but feel a little laboured.

Bar that, this is a fabulous album and well worth listening to the first 10 tracks at least.

Release date: 15 February 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: Deadzone

For fans of:

  • Goldfrapp
  • Boy Harsher
  • Gwenno

Listen on Spotify

Album of the week: SPC ECO – Fifteen

SPC ECO - Fifteen album cover

Former Curve member Dean Garcia has been ratcheting out a new album with daughter Rose Berlin pretty much every year since SPC ECO formed in 2009. This is my first encounter with them and not a moment too soon.

Fifteen manages to combine shoegaze and trip-hop to create an experience of an album that deserves to be listened to in a single sitting without distractions to feel the full effect.

From opener Fading Out Of Time to epic closer Little Ones Out Of Time Mix, you are taken on a dream-like journey. The use of muffled drum lines and bass, the processed angelic vocals of Berlin, and the feedback – oh the feedback – give you the effect of having taken something seriously strong before bedtime.

The influences of 90’s trip-hop are clear to see. Massive Attack is clearly in their record collection, while Berlin’s vocal style bears an uncanny resemblance to Portishead’s Beth Gibbons.

There’s shoegaze to be found beyond the simple feedback, with some nice buzzy guitars in The Heart and Soul and standout track Breathing.

There are also some more oppressive songs, which at times can make you feel like you’re being smothered with a pillow. Fortunately, Berlin’s vocals keep it from becoming too overbearing.

From a critical perspective, this is a long album and many of the songs, as you progress, struggle to differentiate themselves. But as an overall experience it washes over you and takes you to another place.

Find a quiet spot, stick on the best headphones you can find, and let this cracker of a record take you far, far, away.

Release date: 15 February 2019

Rating: 8/10

Standout track: Breathing

For fans of:

  • Curve
  • Massive Attack
  • Portishead

Listen on Bandcamp

EP review: Lazybones – Bang! Bang!

Lazybones - Bang! Bang! cover

Brighton three-piece power-pop punk project Lazybones have put together a hugely enjoyable four-track romp of an EP that will have your head nodding. There’s not much in the way of depth and complexity in Bang! Bang! but with a bass this dirty and songs so catchy, who really cares.

Fashion Victim kicks us off, making full use of vocalist Candi Underwood’s lung capacity as she belts out a tirade against conformity and clothing choices. As I mentioned, we’re not going too deep here, but it does contain the line ‘You wear your Metallica T, but where’s you Kill ‘Em All‘ CD?’, so all is forgiven.

Next up is Heart Beats Like a Drum, which sees dirty, heavy bass employed to create a feeling akin to early hypnotic Queens Of The Stone Age tracks. My favourite track on the EP

We then enter strange territory with what appears to be an ode to jeans with Denim. Odd, but otherwise this is a bouncy number that keeps the record ticking along nicely and sees some of the organ work enter the spotlight.

Closer All My Friends Are Dead sounds like it might be a pretty serious number, but no such worries as we move between some staccato riffs, 60s influenced organ and a full on rock-out chorus.

Hopefully Bang! Bang! is a sign of things to come and Lazybones will managed to pull together a full album of fun garage pop rock anthems like these.

Release date: 15 February 2019

Rating: 7/10

Standout track: Heart Beats Like a Drum

For fans of:

  • Marmozets
  • Demob Happy
  • The White Stripes

Listen on Spotify

New Music Friday 15 February – What to listen to

Some enticing pieces this week to get your teeth into, including Pye Corner Audio, Ladytron and Sons of Kemet’s Theon Cross. Watch out for more reviews coming your way in the week.

Pye Corner Audio - Hollow Earth album cover

Pye Corner Audio – Hollow Earth

Listen on Spotify

Ladytron - Ladytron album cover

Ladytron – Ladytron

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Theon Cross- Fyah album cover

Theon Cross– Fyah

Listen on Spotify

SPC ECO - Fifteen album cover

SPC ECO – Fifteen

Listen on Bandcamp

Czarface - Czarface Meets Ghostface album cover

Czarface – Czarface Meets Ghostface

Listen on Spotify

Lazybones - Bang! Bang! EP cover

Lazybones – Bang! Bang! (EP)

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Piroshka - Brickbat album cover

Piroshka – Brickbat

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Swmrs - Berkeley's On Fire album cover

Swmrs – Berkeley’s On Fire

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Perfect Son - Cast album cover

Perfect Son – Cast

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Stats - Other People's Lives album cover

Stats – Other People’s Lives

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Yann Tiersen - All album cover

Yann Tiersen – All

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Methyl Ethel - Triage album cover

Methyl Ethel – Triage

Listen on Spotify