19 April releases – Reviewed and rated

Apologies, no full reviews this week, due to a lack of time and inspiration. Ultimately the albums released last week didn’t get me over-excited. I had high hopes for Loyle Carner‘s sophomore Not Waving, But Drowning, but ultimately it felt a little one-dimensional stylistically. If I were to pick out an album of the week, it would probably be Happy Now by post-punk veterans Gang of Four, but there’s not much in it to be honest. Hopefully this week’s batch will be better.

Gang Of Four – Happy Now

This is the ninth proper studio album from these post-punk veterans, feels a little tired but still has some good moments.

Rating: 6.5/10 – Album of the Week

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Leafcutter John – Yes! Come Parade With Us

Sometimes interesting electronica but failed to hit the spot consistently.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Heather Woods Broderick – Invitation

Nice ethereal singer-songwriting here, but just nice rather than impressive.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

An enjoyable slice of laid-back hip-hop but lacking in musical diversity.

Rating: 6/10

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Cage The Elephant – Social Cues

American indie-rock with a few quality tracks interspersed – but not enough to grab your attention long-term.

Rating: 6/10

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Fat White Family – Serfs Up!

An album of initial promise from these south-London rockers, but unfortunately soon disappears up its own arse.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Stealing Sheep – Big Wows

Fluffy electro and indie pop that didn’t really do it for me.

Rating: 5/10

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12 April releases – Reviewed and rated

No surprises that The Chemical Brothers take top slot this week, though it was surprisingly good. Also highly impressive was the debut from Dublin post-punk rockers Fontaines D.C.

Playlist at the bottom.

The Chemical Brothers – No Geography

The Chems are back at the top of their game with this corker of disco, soul, funk and acid-infused album.

Rating: 9/10Read full review

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Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

A brilliant post-punk album with a hint of Irish folk to it, only let down on occasion by a slightly strained vocal.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Ifriqiyya Electrique – Laylet El Booree

Bonkers mix of traditional African music and heavy metal. Loved it.

Rating: 7/10

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Lowly – Hifalutin

Dreamy synth-pop with a bit of cleverness to it. Immersive and pretty impressive.

Rating: 7/10

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Glen Hansard – The Wild Willing

Interesting alt-folk with some soaring experimental flourishes. Worthy of a listen.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Big Business – The Beast You Are

Heavy alt-rock, that’s not really pushing any creative boundaries.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

05 April releases – Reviewed and rated

Despite the rather small shortlist this/last week, there were still some absolute crackers on display and album of the week could easily have gone any one of three ways. In the end I plumped for the classic indie sound of JAWS but I would also highly recommend checking out Priests and W. H. Lung

Playlist at the bottom.

JAWS – The Ceiling

Album of the week – Classic indie from the Birmingham trio that’s a joy to listen to.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Priests – The Seduction Of Kansas

Excellent female fronted post-punk pop that was a hair’s breadth from being my Album of the Week. Check it out for the sake of your own well being.

Rating: 7.5/10

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W. H. Lung – Incidental Music

Electronic-heavy indie pop that fans of last year’s storming TVAM album will most certainly enjoy.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Cowboy Flying Saucer – Travel Lodge

Occasionally bizarre psych rock with some nice squelchy electronic touches and a dash of The Fall in the vocals.

Rating: 7/10

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Circa Waves – What’s It Like Over There?

Anthemic pop with indie-EMO undertones. Enjoyable listen but a tiny bit too commercial for me to fall completely in love with.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

22 March releases – Reviewed and rated

Here’s a brief run down of what was release on 22nd March

Playlist at the bottom.

These New Puritans – Inside The Rose

Album of the week. Another great piece of work from Southend’s Barnett twins

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Zeal & Ardor – Live in London

A great introduction to this blistering gospel/death metal act. There’s little in the way of audience interaction but a lot of good, tight music. Sound quality could be better.

Rating: 7.5/10

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L.A. Witch – Octubre (EP)

Dark, brooding 60’s influenced psych-rock-pop that’s well worth 15 minutes of your time.

Rating: 7/10

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Crows – Silver Tongues

Initially disappointing debut from this heavy post-punk outfit. Was growing on me by the end. One to return to

Rating: 6.5/10

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Apparat – LP5

Note of interst from the German electronic musician, but it feels like the album never really goes where you expect it to.

Rating: 6/10

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La Dispute – Panorama

Some interesting moments on this from the American post-hardcore band, just not enough of them.

Rating 6/10

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Ibibio Sound Machine – Doko Mien

Some nice squelchy and funky sections in this, but overall not quite my cup of tea. Fans of Nile Rogers might appreciate.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Sleeper – The Modern Age

Clearly haven’t moved on much from their nineties hayday. Perhaps they should have stayed there.

Rating: 5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

15 March releases – Reviewed and rated

The Comet Is Coming produced my surprise album of the week. No-one was more surprised than me to be waxing lyrical about space jazz. The Cinematic Orchestra also produced another album of classy laid back tracks and there’s a nice spot of raggamuffin from Shy FX.

The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

Jazz for the dancefloor, featuring the wondrous saxophone and clarinet work of Sons of Kemet’s Shabaka Hutchings. Surprisingly accessible, surprisingly good.

Rating: 8/10 – Read full review

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The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe

More classy emotive and enveloping soundtracks from these damn-fine purveyors of blissful grooves and soundscapes.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Shy FX – Raggamuffin SoundTape

Hugely enjoyable combination of dub, reggea, soul and DnB.

Rating: 7/10

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Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima

Soft and dreamy electro-pop on this collaboration album that’s perfect for a sunny afternoon chill-out.

Rating 7/10

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Devlin – The Outcast

The self-styled ‘White rapper from Daggers’ turns out a powerful grime album that’s sure to get your pulse racing.

Rating: 6.5/10

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre – The Brian Jonestown Massacre

They got to 18 studio albums before deciding to do an eponymous one. And well deserved, this is very Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Chai – Punk

All-girl Japanese pop-punk, and all that that entails.

Rating: 6/10

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Auld – Mainstream Music

A combination of indie and electro pop that is easy on the ears. Not going to leave a lasting impression.

Rating: 6/10

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Hans Zimmer – The World Of Hans Zimmer – A Symphonic Celebration

A poor example of the work of this excellent composer. Better track selection could have transformed this album into a genuine work of genius.

Rating: 5.5/10Read full review

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Flevans – Part Time Millionaire

A combination of funk, soul and electronica that lost my interest fairly quickly.

Rating: 5/10

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Snarky Puppy – Immigrance

This jazz and funk collective failed to float my boat.

Rating: 5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.

08 March releases – Reviewed and rated

Despite my initial fears, this week turned out to have a little bit of gold dust sprinkled on it, with a shockingly great album from Foals. Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind offered us some good ‘ol rock ‘n roll while Flight of the Conchords proved their music can still make us laugh.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Shockingly good first half of a two-part album by the increasingly mature Foals. A masterful display of how to build up songs.

Rating: 8.5/10Read full review

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Flight of the Conchords – Live in London

The comedy duo are at their very best in this live show from 2018.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind – CollectiV

Numerous styles on display here, but at heart this is a very well executed rock ‘n roll album.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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Indoor Pets – Be Content

Upbeat, preppy post-punk pop that’s a riot to listen to, though not hugely original.

Rating: 7/10

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The Coathangers – The Devil You Know

Lo-fi indie rock with some punk pretensions. Enjoyable but not setting the world on fire.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Sasami – Sasami

Oh-so gentle indie rock in classic singer-songewriter style from the former Cherry Glazzer member. There are some engaging moments that suck you in, just not enough of them.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs

Female singer-songwriting in the vein of Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Bar the sometimes acerbic lyrics this is a little vanilla for my taste.

Rating: 6/10

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Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse

50s and 60s influenced beach rock. You would be better spending your time listening to the source material.

Rating: 6/10

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Ten FĂ© – Future Perfect, Present Tense

Dreamy pop with a folky influence. Perfectly inoffensive.

Rating: 6/10

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Malihini – Hopefully, Again

Softly, softly pop from this italian duo. Music to fall asleep to.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to releases from 8th March.

01 March releases – Reviewed and rated

As hoped, this week turned out to contain some fantastic releases, though there were some disappointments on show too. FEWS managed to scoop the highest rating of the year so far, but kudos also to Snapped Ankles and Little Simz for some highly impressive albums.

FEWS – Into Red

A superb sophomore from the post-punk noise rockers that should see them move from a band with promise to broader acceptance.

Rating: 9/10Read full review

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Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury

An fantastically bonkers blend of dance, psych, post-punk and avent garde that almost always hits the spot.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Little Simz  – GREY Area

An uplifting and powerful rap album. Little Simz manages to find optimism among hardship, while calling out some of the stereotypes found in rap culture.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Octo Octa – For Lovers (EP)

Three highly competent house tracks that are a treat for both your mind and your feet.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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While She Sleeps – SO WHAT?

Classic metalcore from the Sheffield band. Nothing new here but it is exceptionally well executed.

Rating: 7/10

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Lonesome Shack – Desert Dreams

Edgy country blues and urban folk rock that is a lot better on the ear than you might expect from that description.

Rating: 7/10

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Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn

More interesting than normal Doom Metal, thanks to the female-led harmonics keyboards and occassional strings on show. Ultimately, it lacks enough variety in its bread and butter guitar riffs to be a great album.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Sebastian Plano – Verve

Some very delicate and emotive tunes on show in this neoclassical work, but there’s a lack of balance to the album as a whole. It feels like it needs something else to lift it to another level.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Mansionair – Shadowboxer

High production values on this debut from the Aussie indie-electro group. A bit too poppy and polished but some good moments.

Rating: 6/10

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Test Dept – Disturbance

In theory this should be right up my alley as classic industro-rock, but perhaps it’s a bit too earnest for its own good.

Rating: 6/10

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Sundara Karma – Ulfilas’ Alphabet

Some evidence of Arcade Fire and The Killers on this pop friendly album. Quite an enjoyable experience but not hugely memorable.

Rating: 6/10

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The Japanese House – Good at Falling

Etherial pop from solo artist Amber Bain. Inoffensive and occassionally pleasant, but unlikely to leave a massive impression on you.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Tom Walker – What a Time to Be Alive

What you’d find if you went looking for Rag n’ Bone man or Ed Sheeran in the centre ailse at Aldi. Can’t believe he beat IDLES to a Brit.

Rating: 5/10

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Pond – Tasmania

The eighth studio album from Australain psych-rocker fails to raise even an eybrow of interest. Tame, familiar and done better elsewhere. Yawn.

Rating: 4.5/10

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Weezer  – (Black Album)

Weezer invoke the spirit of Spinal Tap with their own black album. And this pretty insipid effort prompts me to quote one of the ‘Tap’s most famous reviews… ‘Shit sandwich’.

Rating: 4/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above should you wish to take a deeper dive.

22 February releases – Reviewed and rated

Electronic music takes centre stage this week with some fantastic work from Teeth Of The Sea, banging techno from Modeselektor, acid influenced psych rock from The Young Gods and a majestic EP from Snow Palms.

Teeth of the Sea - Wraith album cover

Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Snow Palms - Everything Ascending EP cover

Snow Palms – Everything Ascending (EP)

An epic blend of dance, electronica and neo-classical that works together seamlessly

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Modeselektor - Who Else album cover

Modeselektor – Who Else

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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The Young Gods - Data Mirage Tangram album cover

The Young Gods – Data Mirage Tangram

Nice mix of industro-psych rock with some serious acid effects going on at times. Highly intriguing.

Rating: 7/10

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Drenge - Strange Creatures album cover

Drenge – Strange Creatures

Buzzsaw bass, squelchy synths, and post-punk guitars make for an at-times absorbing, but ultimately patchy album.

Rating: 7/10

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Du Blonde - Lung Bread For Daddy album cover

Du Blonde – Lung Bread For Daddy

A darker, grungy indie work that begs for your attention.

Rating: 7/10

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Pom Poko - Birthday album cover

Pom Poko – Birthday

Bouncy pop punk and indie rock with a strong Japanese influence in its styling. Certainly worth a couple of listens.

Rating: 7/10

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Feels - Post Earth album cover

Feels – Post Earth

Enjoyable enough indie-pop-rock but not going to set the world on fire.

Rating: 6/10

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Desperate Journalist - In Search Of The Miraculous album cover

Desperate Journalist – In Search Of The Miraculous

Indie-rock with a tinge of post-punk/Cure to it.Friendly on the ears but a bit standard and probably taking itself too seriously.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Sleaford Mods- Eton Alive album cover

Sleaford Mods– Eton Alive

Likeable, but very samey. Bar the caustic lyrics, the songs fail to take you anywhere musically.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Gary Clark Jr. - This Land album cover

Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

Blues-rock with the odd bit of synth thrown in. Acceptable but nothing more.

Rating: 5/10

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08 Feb releases – Reviewed and rated

Here’s last Friday’s new releases ranked in order of quality, along with some review links and a sample Spotify playlist. Rock most definitely won out this week.

Yak – Pursuit of Momentary Happiness

An intriguing blend of heavy riffing psych/stoner rock and 50s swing puts Yak ahead of the pack this week.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Flat Worms – Into The Iris (EP)

A six-track, 16 minute adrenaline rush from the La post punk (mostly punk) three piece.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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Health – Vol 4 :: Slaves of Fear

This industro noise rock trio provide a delicious onslaught to the senses, tempered only by some delicate vocals and atmospherics.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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Elder Island – The Omnitone Collection

Atmospheric electro-pop with shades of Florence + The Machine.

Rating: 6.5/10

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International Teachers of Pop – International Teachers of Pop

Enjoyable 80s tinged pop-dance romp bringing back memories of the Human League.

Rating: 6.5/10

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LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions

Some ‘live’ versions of old classics, some new tracks and new covers. Nice, but not astounding. Probably one for die-hard LCD Soundsystem fans.

Rating: 6/10

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Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock

A healthy dose of fired-up alt-rock from one of the scene’s veterans.

Rating: 6/10

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Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited

Couldn’t get to grips with this one. Occasionally pleasant but mostly dull.

Rating: 5/10

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Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs

Pleasant enough solo singer-songwriter material, but nothing to make it stand out in a crowded field.

Rating: 5/10

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Cosey Fanni Tutti – Tutti

A promising start that drifts off into dirge-like squeaks and all round dull randomness.

Rating: 4/10

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01 Feb releases – Reviewed and rated

Here’s my view on what were the best albums released last Friday 1st February. There’s a fair few links to my fuller (though still not too long) reviews here too. There’s also a Spotify sample playlist so you can make you own mind up about the artists.

The Specials - Encore album cover

The Specials – Encore

The kings of Ska return to put the world to rights – and don’t we just need it.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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Boy Harsher - Careful album cover

Boy Harsher – Careful

Strong on ominous, brooding 80’s electro pop. If you liked the music in Stranger Things, you’re on to a winner with this.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Finlay Shakespeare - Domestic Economy album cover

Finlay Shakespeare – Domestic Economy

A fine slab of acid-infused electro pop that shows great promise for a debut album.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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Cherry Glazerr - Stuffed & Ready album cover

Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready

A competent and mature third effort from the LA post-punk trio.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

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White Lies - Five album cover

White Lies – Five

An enjoyable if unremarkable 80’s-influenced indie, post-punk opus with pop sensibilities. Reminiscent of so much but unable to build upon it influences.

Rating: 6/10Read full review

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Unloved - Heartbreak album cover

Unloved – Heartbreak

Invoking the spirits of Motown and dreamy 60’s french pop while injecting a touch of modernity. Some really nice moments interspersed across this album.

Rating: 6/10

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Spielbergs - This Is Not The End album cover

Spielbergs – This Is Not The End

Indie punk with a touch of early R.E.M around the sides. Pleasant enough, but not pulling up any roots.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary album cover

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary

A punk band exploring new indie direction – unfortunately not entirely successfully.

Rating: 5/10

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Beirut - Gallipoli album cover

Beirut – Gallipoli

Indie-folk with added brass. Strong overtones of The Smiths in both vocal and musical style. Doesn’t fare well by comparison.

Rating: 5/10

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Ian Brown - Ripples album cover

Ian Brown – Ripples

A plodding effort from King Monkey that aspires to classic Roses, but falls far, far short.

Rating: 4.5/10Read full review

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Within Temptation - Resist album cover

Within Temptation – Resist

Over-the-top goth metal with symphonic overtones. No doubt would do well as an ‘alternative’ Dutch entry on Eurovision. A worthy successor to Lordi.

Rating: 4/10

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