My first new album review of 2019 is one that I was initially unsure about and nearly didn’t make the cut, but I’m very glad I gave it another try.
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete are a male/female duo hailing from Mexico and De Facto is their fifth album. It’s a glorious mix of pop, psych, indie, post-rock with shoegaze overtones that can send you off onto a hypnotic journey you don’t ever want to end.
The album starts with Ana, an almost-tantric hypnotic chanting track overlaid with ominous bass-heavy synth leading into desolate twisted guitars. This interruption of songs with distorted mind-blowing guitars becomes a bit of a theme throughout the album, and not one that is unwelcome.
There are some straight-out psych rock efforts with dreamy interludes such as on Acción and Resistir – the airy vocals of singer Lorena Quintanilla nicely breaking up the heavier tendancies of husband Alberto González. There are more poppy tracks, such as the disco-groove laden Líneas En Hojas, which would sound a lot like Saint Etienne if it wasn’t for the gorgeous scuzzy guitars filling up the latter part of the song.
There are also some proper wig-outs to be had. Unificado has the desert ‘trip’ feel similarly invoked by The Doors’ This is the End before melding into a shoegaze epic. Lux Lumina offers minimalistic dream-pop that launches into a marvelous full-on maximum feedback sonic assault.
In my view they saved the best until last with La Maga, a 10-minute slow build track that morphs into a wonderfully hypnotic synth-backed guitar groove that just doesn’t ever stop – and gets better and better as it goes along.
Some unusual and intriguing releases in November. Let’s start with Thought Gang, the jazz project of Twin Peaks collaborators David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. It’s as messed up as you would expect from these two but there’s just enough narrative in the music to keep it together (just).
Sun Kil Moon‘s jazz-blues-folk-rock effort This is My Dinner also sees vocalist Mark Kozelek employing a stream of consciousness approach throughout the tracks, which is for the most part, very enjoyable.
Most interesting of all was Slovenian industro avant-garde band Laibach‘s take on The Sound of Music (yes, that one). What could easily be dismissed as a novelty actually has some very interesting reworks of the very familiar tunes, and then suddenly goes off on a tangent about North Korea halfway through Maria/Korea from which it never returns. Still hugely entertaining.
A quick mention for The Prodigy. New album No Tourists doesn’t see them push any boundaries beyond the punk-rave genre they invented, but when it’s this good, who really cares.
Top pick this month, really shouldn’t be there. When I was compiling this review I had committed to making it about original albums. No live shows, no compliations, no reissues etc. But Robert Hood‘s DJ Kicks mix is just so damn good that it couldn’t be ignored. This is a classic slice of Detroit Techno that pushes all my buttons. As soon as you stick it on you’re transported to a sweaty all-night (possibly illegal) rave and you just don’t ever want it to stop. For me, this was everything that was joyous and hedonistic about music in my youth and I am clearly still mad for it.
January started with a bang – in the sense that a lot a bands favouring loud, distorted guitars decided to get out of the blocks early in 2018. January didn’t produce a deluge of albums to pick from, those that did packed an enormous punch.
We had the catchy, twangy guitars of Shopping, the alt-rock growling of Shame, the psyche-laden riffs of Prettiest Eyes and the unashamedly power-pop-punk of Marmozets (lead singer Rebecca Macintyre channeling Transvision Vamp’s Wendy James marvellously). These bands proved that loud punk-laced rock still has relevance in a age of auto-tuned RnB.
But the early contender for my album of the year came from another place entirely. German composer Nils Frahm’sAll Melody is a stunning blend of neo-classical piano artistry, beautifully desolate electronicawith a touch of smoky late night jazz bars. This took me aback when I first heard it and, after repeated listening, it still blows me away.