Fat White Family – Serfs Up!
With a masterpiece of musical mischief, the brothers Lias and Nathan Saoudi, Saul Adamczewski and co make a most welcome return after 2015's Songs For Our Mothers and the hiatus to do other projects such as Moonlandingz and The Insecure Men. What new, dark magic is stirring here? A mélange of styles seamlessly dipped in humorous wooziness, stirred in a cauldron of caustic originality. Elements of Leonard Cohen, Gregorian chanting, early Sheffield synth-pop, lo-fi murder ballads, electro funk, David Axelrod, Alan Vega, Afrika Bambaataa, David Bowie, bossa nova clicks, glam fuzz, string swirls and much more bubble away, including Lias's menacing, whispered minimalism, Nathan's shimmering synths, and bold, brassy sax by Alex White. The album feels like a black-humoured, dystopian journey of bewilderment, from Feet to I Believe In Better, to Vagina Dentist to Oh Sebastian to Tastes Good With The Money (with a Baxter Dury oration) to classic FWF on When I Leave. From drug-fuelled chaos, they are now a musical Monty Python entangled a murderous Wicker Man procession of frog and horse heads, ambling forward, leading a procession of edgy innovation and daring. Out on Domino.
Fat White Family – Tastes Good With The Money
Kelsey Lu – Blood
An at times exquisitely beautiful, delicate debut by the North Carolina singer-songwriter, whose soaring, yet exposed voice is backed by harp and and other orchestral strings, warm acoustic guitar and electronica. A producer as well as singer, who after working with Solange, Sampha, and Florence Welch, finally comes out into her own light. with a brave mixture of experimental pop, folk and soul, echoing Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush, from the wistful opener, Rebel, to Pushin' Against The Wind, all the way to the final title track, in which she pushes towards that key phrase "History taught us hope is the answer". Through the heat and fog of commercial pop, several breaths of fresh air. Out on Columbia.
Kelsey Lu - Blood
Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning
Follow-up album to by the south London rapper's Mercury-nominated Yesterday's Gone, this is an album full of quiet moments of contemplative honesty, and it's refreshing to that he doesn't fall into the commercial trap of Autotune naffness. Now 24, he's moving on to live with his girlfriend instead of his mum, but the latter remains hugely important to, and within his work, as does food and cookery, with tracks titled Ottolenghi and Carluccio unashamedly put on the table. Loose Ends also includes a lovely singing contribution by Jorja Smith. Overall, the music is minimal and gentle, the rapping confessional, easy flowing and talky, and while there’s a certain lightweightedness to this, it's hard not to like Carner. He's no braggadocio rap star, more an affable, smooth-voiced guy with lots of love to give, someone you'd like to sit down with for a meal and a drink, and talk about feelings, backgrounds, upbringing, our future. Out on AMF.
Loyle Carner - Ottolenghi
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
Not the most sophisticated title for this third album, but if singer Melissa Jefferson's voice and energy could be harnessed, it could power the national grid in an album that bursts open with joyously big soul-pop really turned up to a dirty 11. Other elements, bold as you like from doo-wop, hip hop, and the perfect fit and presence of Missy Elliott comes in on Tempo: "Slow songs, they for skinny hoes… I’m a thick bitch, I need tempo.” Echoes of Prince (check out Juice) and Janelle Monae are also here, but this album isn't about originality but unstoppably positive, big-voiced lady talent, love and lust, and there's no shortage of that. Out on Nice Life/Atlantic.
Lizzo - Cuz I Love You
Stealing Sheep – Big Wow
Excellent third album from the very likeable Liverpool trio of Rebecca Hawley, Emily Lansley and Luciana Mercer, who since 2015's Not Real, have been variously busy with other projects, including creating a marching drum band to celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage. Alongside guitar, bass, keys and drums, each share lead vocals and intertwined harmonies in a setup of great balance and talent. This is clever, sophisticated electro-pop, infused with cheeky inflections and old-school synth sounds, from the title track to from newest single Show Love, to Back In Time, to the bouncy Why Haven't I? Out on Heavenly Recordings.
Stealing Sheep – Joking Me
Wand – Laughing Matter
The Los Angeles five-piece psych-rock band return after 2016's Plum, in what is a wonderfully woven ensemble of piano, wire-y guitar, drums and wistful vocals, that sometimes faintly echo Villagers. Frontman Cory Hanson and drummer Evan Burrows have also worked with Ty Segall. As part of that Californian scene they have certainly become a tight unit after extensive touring, but sadly remain very much under the commercial success radar, but are one of the most interesting and eclectic acts around. Travel diary, love songs and much more can be found here, from the pastiche and disruption on Walkie Talkie, the strange eclecticism of Thin Air, the huge choruses of Wonder, among 15 fascinating songs in which to immerse yourself. Out on Drag City.
Wand – Scarecrow
Jade Bird – Jade Bird
Strong, if perhaps slightly over-polished debut by the American country-pop singer-songwriter, who has shades of Sheryl Crow (see especially I Get No Joy) and Meredith Brooks about her, with just enough grit in her powerful pop voice. She has plenty to say about love-torn loss and crap relationships (Uh Huh, Love Has All Been Done Before, Going Gone) and more exposed, acoustic guitar-based Ruins. Nothing very new about this, but the feelings expressed are passionate, and exercised with sincerity and skill. Out on Glassnote Records.
Jade Bird - My Motto
Elva – Winter Sun
A new project by Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Morris and Ola Innset, of the Norwegian bands Making Marks and Sunturns, 'Elva' meaning river in Norwegian, and the album was recorded an old school house in the Swedish forest. This is charming, gentle, mainly acoustic folk, inspired by the natural world with a dash of American indie and Yo La Tengo. Out on Tapete.
Elva – Athens
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
This is only a selection of recommended listens not a catalogue of releases nor full reviews. Feel free to recommend more and comment below. You can also use the contact page, or on social media: Song Bar Twitter, Song Bar Facebook. Song Bar YouTube. Please subscribe, follow and share.