Aldous Harding – Designer
Gorgeous third album by the New Zealand singer-songwriter, this time produced by John Parish. With guests including Stephan Black (Sweet Baboo), Gwion Llewelyn (drums) and Clare Mactaggart (violin). Parish's part seems to have added a lusher, fuller sound, but Harding's songs are still delicate and otherworldly, a folk speckled with her magical voice, ghostly and tender, flecked with echoes of other artists too, past and present from Cate Le Bon and Vashti Bunyan. There's also a new, impish bounce to her performance in this album. Standout tracks include Fixture Picture, Zoo Eyes and The Barrel, which exemplifies her cryptic lyricism ("I know you have the dove, I’m not getting wet … show the ferret to the egg") and on the video she expresses an impish, eccentricity, dressed somewhere between a ritualistic Jodorowsky character crossed with an Amish or traditional Welsh maiden. Or maybe she just likes the hats. It’s an exquisite barrel of laughs. Out on 4AD.
Aldous Harding – The Barrel
The Mountain Goats – In League With Dragons
Beautifully crisp return for the prolific John Darnielle (also novelist/podcaster) and co with this 17th album from the four-piece band packed with delicate, wistful albums of indie rock and country. It began as concept album but if there is one theme it is seeking out to understand monsters. The setting ranging across fictional character studies, from a gangster in a Native American casino to a clapped out baseball player to a survivalist scientist. Intelligent, sensitive work. Out on Merge Records.
The Mountain Goats – Doc Gooden
Kevin Morby – Oh My God
Superbly mature, dynamic and timeless fifth album by the 31-year-old American singer-songwriter who centres this release on spirituality and religion, with tracks such as No Halo, Nothing Sacred / All Things Wild, Hail Mary and more. It's a theme he has touched on previously in previous albums, such as I Have Been To The Mountain from 2015's Singing Saw, but explores more deeply, and as the title suggests, with a critical, sensitive, wry humour. Aside from being loosely indie and rock folk, Morby doesn't seem to belong to any time or genre, a bit like his namesake Kevin Ayres, is indefinably inventive. Out on Dead Oceans.
Kevin Morby – OMG Rock N Roll
Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres – Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres
Still alive, and if not really drug free, yet managing to live a creative, if accident-prone life (hedgehog-related injury is latest) in Margate with his dogs and girlfriend, the chaotically talented Libertines and Babyshambles singer-songwriter releases a debut LP with new band that is larger gentler than previous work, more introspective, reflecting on mistakes, loves, hopes and losses. There's certainly plenty of material to draw upon. As he sings on Someone Else To Be, reference on the Libertines biggest number Don't Look Back Into The Sun: "Looking for another chance, ride into the sun." Out on Strap Originals.
Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres – Someone Else To Be
Soak – Grim Town
Second album from the Derry-born 22-year-old singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, beginning with a train announcement warning for listeners to leave who "are unmedicated and have salaries or pension plans", because this work is only for "the lonely, the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, the lost". But there's no reason that all of the above could apply to anyone, and don't let that put you off, this is bright, breathy, raw angsty, sometimes angry pop with indie attitude, littered with mature moments such as on I Was Blue, Technicolour Too, or Fall Asleep / Backseat. Somehow you get the feeling she is trying to reach for for commercial pop audience than is comfortable, such as on Everybody Loves You, but still, a talent to watch. Out on Rough Trade.
Soak – Knock Me Off My Feet
Minyo Crusaders – Echoes of Japan
A fascinating fusion of Colombian cumbia, Afrobeat, reggae, salsa, Cuban, jazz, Ethiopian traditional and a whole lot more played and sung by the Japanese 10-piece big band, whose mission is to rescue min’yo, originally workers' songs, from its now established formal ritual style, back into something for the people. Wonderful rhythms, energy and style ensue. A gem of an album in every way, oozing with fun and genre-bending originality. On on Mais Um.
Minyo Crusaders – Tanko Bushi
The Cranberries – In The End
A final album from the band cannot escape in every note the sad loss of singer Dolores O'Riordan in 2018, and this posthumous release, put together by the rest of the band is heavy with loss and extra meaning to hear her as if she's still with us, whispering at the beginning of All Over Now, and the irony of phrase "Remember the night in a hotel in London." Still, it's a very good epitaph, from jangly guitars a la Smiths to New Order beats, with tracks Wake Me When It’s Over and Summer Song standing out. Rest in peace, Dolores. Out on BMG.
The Cranberries - All Over Now
Foxygen – Seeing Other People
The enigmatic American duo of multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rado and vocalist Sam France return with their sixth studio album, another muted as their last, but clearly it's a habit they just can't kick. This readjusted identity, after previous work such as the beautifully soulful San Francisco, is sometimes humorously funky pop soul that's self-effacing. Face The Facts harks back to 1975 when "cocaine was in Coca-Cola" but that "you're never gonna be a rock'n'roller", the world-weary Work rather wishes it wasn't necessary, and the slower Livin' A Lie casts an eye across a ruinous past. For a band that sort of doesn't want to exists, tongue-in-cheek aside, they are still hard to ignore. Out on Jagjaguwar.
Foxygen - Livin' A Lie
Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Mettavolution
It's five years since the Mexican acoustic rock guitar duo released their last album, and 20 years since these busking superstars started playing together. Their latest expresses their interest in Buddhism and the history of human evolution, and alongside the upbeat flamenco pop frenzied fingerwork of the title track with video, most strikingly comes an acoustic version Pink Floyd's Echoes, and the Meddle era. If you already like them, then this is further exuberant joy for all kinds of music, especially in acoustically rocking out. Out on BMG.
Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Echoes
Ezra Collective – You Can't Steal My Joy
Further joy indeed from the London jazz quintet, led by Femi Koleoso, in a fusion style that exemplifies a currently thriving new British jazz scene. It also includes Loyle Carner hip hop What Am I To Do?, plus the classic standard Space Is the Place, slow, mediative piano on Philosopher II, and refreshing instrumentals such as King of the Jungle and Shakara, featuring Kokoroko. There's no stealing this joy. Out on Enter The Jungle.
Ezra Collective – You Can't Steal My Joy
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Fishing for Fishies
There's simply no stopping this prolific seven-headed Aussie rock beast, who return after releasing five albums in 2017. This 14th studio album is a nod to robots and the rustic, nature and automation. It's a blues-infused blast of sonic boogie that struts and shimmies through several moods and terrains, channelling bits of Stevie Wonder's Innervisions on Plastic Boogie, and Laurel Canyon-style sunny easy listening of The Bird Song, while the title track is a form of psych-skiffle folk. Out on their own label, Flightless Records.
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Fishing for Fishies
Marina – Love + Fear
Formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds after her breakthrough a very commercially successful debut in 2009, the Wales-born London pop singer Marina Lambrini Diamandis returns after a three-year break with a more reflective album, catching up with herself from a whirlwind career, having been originally signed to a major label at 22. On Orange Trees, she yearns to go back to "what we need" which perhaps is a holiday on a nice beach, while on To Be Human, for example, though still mainstream pop that has a little bit of Cher about it, captures a need to look at the bigger picture of mistakes and regrets. Out on Atlantic.
Marina – To Be Human
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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