Eleanor Friedberger – Rebound
The former Fiery Furnaces singer-songwriter is now on her fourth solo album, and this could be her finest and most consistent - chock full of witty, clever, and wistful electro-pop, sparser with the guitars, but as ever very strong on voice and lyrics. It’s melancholy and upbeat, full of references to other pop eras, ZZ Top and like many of her old output including another dog reference on the very funny Are We Good? in which the canine in question is barking “in the wrong language”. Certainly the most consistently fine album of the week. Out on Frenchkiss Records.
Eleanor Friedberger - In Between Stars
Plan B – Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose
Ben Drew has more than one identity, and as singer, rapper and actor, he perhaps has so much talent, it becomes confusing. He’s moved between articulate, uncompromising hip-hop artist in his debut Who Needs Actions When You’ve Got Words (2006) and Ill Manors (2012), but in between The Defamation of Strickland Banks (2010) was a wondrous and surprising soul album. This latest is somewhere in between, but Drew is not a man to compromise, so that doesn’t quite compute. Last year’s soulful and rather superb single In The Name of Man is not on the album, but the heartfelt Heartbeat is, while Guess Again is more of a ragga number. So we are indeed guessing again, and it’s a mixture of his various identities. Perhaps ultimately what's happening here is an expression of him being neither working class nor middle class, and instead social outcast continues. It's uncomfortable, but always enthralling. Out on 679/Atlantic.
Plan B - Mercy
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
The producer and DJ who has worked with Brian Eno tackles the topic of singularity - where technlogy and humans merge. Or does he? Not really. No analysis of the topic at all, but certainly technology is skilfully employed on these pulsating, instrumental, smooth-groove tracks, perfect to lose yourself in, but not necessarily come out of with more insight than when you entered. Still worth exploring a little, however. Out on Domino Records.
Jon Hopkins - Everything Connected
Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man
The former Supergrass frontman and one of the nicest guys in the business releases his third solo album following 2015’s Matator. Touring part-solo with guitar, keyboards and effects, he remains a charming, sensitive and powerful songwriter, and this album, with a gently ironic title, is partly inspired by Grayson Perry’s book and TV assessment of contemporary manhood: The Descent Of Man - examining in song form, what it is to be father, partner, rock star and more. Musically too its full of depth, mixing indie, dance and that powerful voice that harks back to Supergrass days but also reflects influences such as Frank Ocean as well his indie roots. Walk The Walk and Deep Pockets are two of the standout tracks. Out on Hot Fruit/Caroline International.
Gaz Coombes - Walk The Walk
DJ Koze – Knock Knock
The eccentric, ecclectic German producer and DJ Stefan Kozalla releases an unashamedly joyful and experimental mixture of deep house, electronica, trip hop, hip hop, indie dance and groove with an immpressive array of guests, including Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner, Roísín Murphy, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Speech from Arrested Development, Sophia Kennedy and José Gonzalez. He’s impossible to define, other than someone who does his own thing outside of current trends, and that’s a formula for originality, embracing simplicity with for example, the video for Pick Up which is nothing but a black screen with brief descriptions of song sections, such as “vocal sample … beat kicks in … disco sample loop 2 … deep feeling of happiness”. That’s a fair, but very refreshing summary. Out on Pampa Records.
Dj Koze – Illumination feat. Roísín Murphy
Daniel Blumberg – Minus
Let’s break it down - the 27-year-old singer-songwriter has created an emotional but mature work of seven tracks all about breakdowns - in relationships, mental and physical breakdowns, breakdowns in communication, and the breaking down of received methods and practice. And at the centre of broken-down heart of the record lies a pathological preoccupation with a breakdown of trust. But if there’s one remedy for all of this, it’s to communicate it through music. Out on Mute Records
Daniel Blumberg – Minus
Leon Bridges – Good Thing
Second album from the the double-Grammy Award nominated R&B artist, who went from working as a dishwasher and struggling through the open mic scene in his native Fort Worth, Texas to performing at the White House for President Obama. Which is a good thing. So let’s enjoy one of the best from the album, Bad Bad News. Out on Columbia Records.
Leon Bridges – Bad Bad News
Iceage – Beyondless
Fantastically upbeat fourth album from the Danish indie band who have moved between shoegaze, hardcore and postpunk, but this seems to really find their oeuvre, especially in the drumming and trumett department, creating that at times sounds something between the Verve and Dexys Midnight Runners. Out on Matador.
Iceage – Pain Killer (feat. Sky Ferreira)
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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This is only a selection, not a catalogue of releases. Feel free to recommend more and comment below.