The best albums of March 2019

1: FEWS – Into Red

Rating: 9/10 – Read full review

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2: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Rating: 8.5/10 – Read full review

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3: Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury

Rating: 8/10 – Read full review

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

Rating: 8/10 – Read full review

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5: Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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6: Flight Of The Conchords – Live In London

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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7: These New Puritans– Inside The Rose

Rating: 7.5/10 – Read full review

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8: Little Simz – GREY Area

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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9: 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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10: Zefur Wolves – Truth Is In The Stars

Droning, drawly alt-indie rock with some pop undertones. A satisfyingly languid assault on your senses.

Rating: 7.5/10

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29 March releases – Reviewed and rated

Due to very forseen delays in being able to both listen to new music and write about it, this is the rather delayed ratings from 29th March. It’s a shorter list than normal as I’m trying to do two weeks at once.

Playlist at the bottom.

Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

Album 0f the week. Heavy, raucous, clever. A right rollocking riff-tastic grind and a worthy successor to their brilliant debut ‘What Big Eyes’.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Zefur Wolves – Truth Is In The Stars

Droning, drawly alt-indie rock with some pop undertones. A satisfyingly languid assault on your senses.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Brutus – Nest

Math-rock and metal from this Belgium trio that has distinct resemblances to Rolo Tomassi, and there’s no great shame in that.

Rating: 7/10

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White Denim – Side Effects

Another competent piece of work from the Texan alt-rockers. Not sensing any particular new direction in what they do on this album, but what they do, they do well.

Rating: 7/10

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The Underground Youth – Montage Images Of Lust & Fear

Elements of the Velvet Underground in this and the Berlin/Manchester post-punk band have some distinct resemblence to fellow Germans Die Nerven, who featured highly on my albums of the year list for 2018 with Fake. This doesn’t quite reaching the heights of that album but definitely worth a listen for fans of Bauhaus, Nick Cave and Joy Division.

Rating 6.5/10

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Show Me The Body – Dog Whistle

American style punk with a touch of nu-metal. A bit sludgy and tough going at times.

Rating: 6/10

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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.

Album of the week (29 March): Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

This four piece based in Brighton and Glasgow certainly enjoy to walk on the heavier side of the musical highway and Lower Slaughter‘s sophomore release revels in doomy, sludgy, brilliant riffs enhanced by the spiky growling vocals of Sinead Young.

I loved debut album, What Big Eyes, and with Some Things Take Work they have moved the dial again. This is a heavy, raucous and clever sonic assault that you may have to steady yourself for before donning the headphones.

The overall impression is that of Garage/DIY rock gone extreme, but despite the lo-fi nature of whats on offer, the band are as tight as can be and have explosive riffs coming out of every pore.

Opener Gas is a slower, grinding number that relies heavily on the vocals of Young to carry the track, which she does easily. We then are launched into the chugging Reboundaries, that sits somewhere between punk and Sabbath on the rock scale.

To be fair, there’s not a huge amount of variation in this album. Stylistically your’e going from punk, through metal of various types, but when it’s this good, who cares.

There are some different shades in here. Standout track Some Things Take Work is higher paced, slightly lighter in tone and actually quite catchy. A Portrait Of The Father contains some of the most delicate moments on the album and a slightly bluesy feel.

Elsewhere, there’s the all our Mötorhead-tastic The Measure Of A Man, and some properly sludgy doom-metal-done-well on Revenant, but generally you know what you’re going to get on this album – and it’s likely to make you ears bleed.

Closer The Body epitomises everything that has come before it, shifting between jangly indie guitars and crunching riffs, culminating in a hypnotic, head-pounding sign-off.

Certainly this album isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, but those with a penchant for the heavier side of music should lap this up.

Release date: 29 March 2019

Rating: 8/10

Standout track: Into The Fire

For fans of:

  • Black Sabbath
  • Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
  • Sleep

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Album of the week (22 March): These New Puritans – Inside The Rose

The fourth studio album from Southend’s Barnett twins is probably the most accessible These New Puritans album so far. Do expect too many roller coaster-type thrills on Inside The Rose, but this is most certainly a rewarding listen for TNP fans and newcomers alike.

There are some delicious moments of contrasting light and dark tones on this album – often at the same time. Opener Infinity Vibraphones is a case in point. It is both soft and ominous, with the vibraphones of the track name providing a juxtaposition of impatient relaxation, rounded off with some emotive strings and a militaristic drumbeat.

This contrast of near blissful tones against a dark background features strongly on other tracks, such as A-R-P, with its arpeggiated keyboards giving way to some much softer tones interspersed with the occasional brief bout of heavy distorted bass.

Like several of the tracks on Inside the Rose, the rhythm section is nowhere to be found on ARP, until very late on in the track. Where The Trees Are On Fire employs a similar tactic, which until the final third is a slow, beautiful lament, and the only real deployment of TNP’s trademark brass section on the album.

The reluctance to put real rhythm behind a lot of the tracks can feel frustrating at times, as the sense is that’s it’s always just around the corner, and on tracks such as Beyond Black Sun, it can start to feel a little dirge-like. However, the overall ominous beauty that’s on show overshadows this and while there are still some notes of discordance that TNP are well-known for, such as on Anti-Gravity or the twisted rhythms on the challenging but ultimately rewarding Into The Fire, they are nowhere near the levels seen on previous works.

Another fine work from a now well-established band exploring the possibilities within their unique style.

Release date: 22 March 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: Into The Fire

For fans of:

  • Teeth Of The Sea
  • Gazelle Twin
  • The Twilight Sad

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New Music Friday 05 April – What to listen to

Firstly, if you’re wondering where the releases from 29 March are, fear not, I’ll be working my way through those too this week and will review the best of them. As a result, the list of releases on my playlist for this week is slightly shorter than normal but should still contain some great nuggets.

Playlist at the bottom.

Circa Waves – What’s It Like Over There?

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Cowboy Flying Saucer – Travel Lodge

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W. H. Lung – Incidental Music

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JAWS – The Ceiling

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Priests – The Seduction Of Kansas

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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.

Normal service resuming

It’s been a hectic few weeks here as a family home move and lack of broadband rendered me unable to provide my usual weekly music round-up and album reviews.

I’m just starting to get back into the swing of it now and I’ll let you know of any gems that I may have missed during my two-week hiatus as I work my way through the backlog.

Onwards…

New Music Friday 22 March – What to listen to

Not sure if I’m in a mood this week but didn’t unearth a huge amount of releases of interest this week, but the new one by These New Puritans looks promising. There’s a debut album from Crows, who are supporting the fabulous IDLES on tour this spring and a live album from the genius Gospel/Death Metal crossover that is Zeal & Ardor. 90s indie-rock stalwartsSleeper also return with their first new album in 21 years.

Playlist at the bottom.

These New Puritans – Inside The Rose

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Crows – Silver Tongues

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Zeal & Ardor – Live in London

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Sleeper – The Modern Age

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L.A. Witch – Octubre

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La Dispute – Panorama

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Apparat – LP5

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Ibibio Sound Machine – Doko Mien

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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.

Album of the week: The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

The Comet Is Coming - Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery album cover

Fair warning, I am about to use the phrase ‘Space Jazz’. I implore you to look beyond that or risk missing out on a quite brilliant album…

Space Jazz trio The Comet Is Coming have been quite a revelation for me. I first had my ears opened to a bit of jazz last year by, among others, the brilliant Sons of Kemet. Perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the main reasons why Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is so darn good is the sax and clarinet of Sons of Kemet’s Shabaka Hutchings that features on this album. But it also manages to add some impressive and heavy bass synth work to the mix, adding in some real dance floor credentials.

The album starts off realtively sedate, giving little indication of what’s to come. Because The End Is Really The Beginning is an atmospheric, almost proggy, start to the album with little in the way of beats. It’s a real scene setter that then leads into Birth of Creation, which introduces some nice meaty, throbbing, synths to the clarinet work. You start to get the feeling that the album is beginning to lead you somewhere and building up to something more special.

Which is precisely what we get with Summon The Fire. There’s a pounding synth, great drum work, Hutchings’s saxophone gets its first proper workout – Sons of Kemet-style – and there’s a few nice background effects going on too. This is proper jazz music for the dance floor.

Things then get deeper with Blood Of The Past, with a fantastic mid-tempo hypnotic bass synth line that becomes a proper head-nodder. There’s even a slight mid-eastern feel to the sax work, but what makes this the standout track is the inclusion of spoke word maestro Kate Tempest from the midway point. Even if the word ‘jazz’ sends shivers down your spine, give this track a whirl.

Super Zodiac sees more breathless sax work from Hutchins. Bar the dreamy synths, this could easily be a Sons of Kemet track, but the inclusion of them adds a bonus layer.

The album then starts to ease off the pedal slightly. Astral Flying‘s slower pace allows both the synth and sax some breathing space, while Timewave Zero is more typical space jazz (if there is such a thing) but moves towards a more house-y feel by the end.

Unity offers us some laid back tribal drum rhythms, while closer The Universe Wakes Up provides a low-key atmospheric ending to the album, with just a hint of random jazz wig out (the bit that usually really annoys me).

I’m still not yet a jazz enthusiast, most of it still seems like pompous musical masturbation to my mind, but I can certainly get down with this kind of groove.

Beware the comet, for it most certainly is coming.

Release date: 15 March 2019

Rating: 8/10

Standout track: Blood Of The Past

For fans of:

  • Sons of Kemet
  • Theon Cross
  • Kate Tempest

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