LUMP (Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay) - LUMP
An otherworldly, exquisitely beautiful collaboration between the folk singer-singer songwriter and the Tunng frontman and prolific producer. LIndsay wrote the music with a mixture of Moogs, gorgeous flute sounds, synths and drum patterns and Marling brought in lyrics and melodies to make something unlike anything else you’re likely to hear this year. The seven songs are inspired by early-20th-century Surrealism and the absurdist poetry of Edward Lear and Ivor Cutler – a bizarre but compelling narrative about the commodification of curated public personas, the mundane absurdity of individualism, and the lengths we go to escape our own meaninglessness. The yeti-like dancing LUMP character came from an idea from Marling’s young niece. So everything about this project seems to be straight from the brain’s right hemisphere, casting strange imaginative colours, and with this music and Marling’s magical voice, truly gorgeous and original it is too. Out on Dead Oceans.
LUMP – Curse of the Contemporary
Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
“What would it sound like if you were the songwriter / And you made your living off me? Would you undress me repeatedly in public / To show how very noble and naked you can be?” Following last yearr’s lauded and wonderful Pure Comedy, Josh Tillman tilts even moire fully into self-reflexive parody mode. Titles such as The Songwriter and Mr Tillman arguably pivot between ridiculous narcissism and genius, just as the narrator who, in many of these songs, is a man constantly in transit, stuck in hotel rooms, and living in a world of mirrors and illusions. Just where this will ultimately take him is anyone’s guess, but if anything, behind these parodies of parodies, the former Fleet Foxes man is stil brutally honest about himself and the absurdity of our world. We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That) shows up plenty of heartbreak too, and reminds us that his songs were written in a fraught period between summer 2016 and winter 2017. His songs are still inescaply exquisite in melody and pace, so much so you could just hate yourself for it. Out on Bella Union.
Father John Misty - Mr Tillman
Bodega – Endless Scroll
Sharp as a pin and taut as s drum skin, the lyrics and riff-sharp as-style performance of this young Brooklyn five-piece make up one of the most brilliant debut albums of the year. This is punk and postpunk in a mix of Ramones, early B-52’s, The Fall, The Wedding Present, Lou Reed and LCD Soundsystem, but it’s also bang up to date. It wryly lambasts screen scrolling and the internet effect of modern apathy, using a series of parody clips and entertaining, mouse-dangling, energetic, red-bloodied songs very much performed in analogue. Frontman Ben Hozie’s shouty delivery is an emotional rhythmic instrument, backed with Nikki Belfiglio's similarly unsinkable energy, guitarist Madison Velding-VanDam strums, struts and jitters like some unholy hybrid of Wilko Johnson and Ian Curtis, and the backline of Montana Simone and Heather Elle make them one of the tightest live bands around. With 14 blazing tracks, standouts include Name Escape, Bookmarks, Can’t Knock The Hustle, Jack In Titanic with the bookending tracks How Did This Happen? (a headline parody and single previously on Song of the Day), and Truth is Not Punishment. This is an album that captures our crazy, contradictory world, as summarised in some of many great lines, here about a depressed writer on the final track: “On his TV flat screen was the porcupine dream of the essay. Where a man and his scene let lose on caffeine see it only one way. And ‘pain rings true’ said the pen to the knife. And what rings true is what a pen wants from life.” Out on What's Your Rupture?
Bodega – How Did This Happen?
Warmduscher – Whale City
Second album from the South London band that mixes members of Paranoid London, Childhood and Fat White Family, and from the latter Saul Adamczewski and Lias Kaci Saoudi have also been involved in side projects The Moonlandingz and The Insecure Men. Again this is a strange, sordid, and amusing rock opera otherworld of riffing rock, funk and blues, as the band members variously take on or depict many fictional characters including Pretty Lilly, Whale Jimmy, Clams Baker, Uncle Sleepover, Ice Cream Keith, Disco Minny, and of course, the silver-tongued but ever so slightly sleazy biographer Dr Alan Goldfarb who says this is a work that “were in not for my being strapped naked to a chair in a garage – it could send a man hurtling towards the outer perimeters of uncharted space.” Most entertaining. Out on The Leaf Label.
Warmduscher – Standing on the Corner
Natalie Prass - The Future and the Past
Few releases perhaps come with greater relief for an artist than this from the Virginia singer-songwriter on the old-school recording methods Spacebomb Studios. This is 80s pop 90s groove and R&B that was torn up and started again when 2016 happened, and remade to adjust to the times, in what turns into engaging picture of reinvention made with collaborator Matthew E. White. Behind Prass’s light, breathy voice lurks a tough and dry sense of humour alongside string orchestrations, piano, synths and fuzzed-out guitars. Out on ATO.
Natalie Prass – Short Court Style
Neko Case - Hell-On
Seventh album from the folk pop and country singer is a compelling, honest, powerful and at times feminst fightback record of strong reflection and storyteling, and follows a a series of life problems that include a persistant stalker and a big house fire. It features collaborations such as Joey Burns, Beth Ditto, Kelly Hogan, KD Lang, AC Newman, Paul Rigby, Laura Veirs and is produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John. The title track, Last Lion of Albion and Halls of Sarah and Curse of the I5 Corridor are standout tracks, but the whole album flows like a river returning to find its true path. Out on ANTI.
Neko Case - Hell-On
Sam Evian – You, Forever
Following 2017’s Need You, Sam Evian, real name Sam Owens takes his journey towards further soulful-rock musical purification by stripping back his methods. This album was created by writing band parts on Tascam four-track cassette recorder in his parents’ house in North Carolina. Not unlike Bodega, but with rather different music, it’s an escape from the digital world. Having toured extensively to support bands such as Whitney, Teenage Fanclub, Luna, Nick Hakim and Lucius, Evian is all about direct live feeling, and even bans tuning pedals. Like his high voice and guitar combination, this is both raw but refined. Out on Saddle Creek.
Sam Evian – Health Machine
Morcheeba - Blaze Away
Massive in the 90s with a trip-hop style that became mainstream in the charts, they disappeared in the public eye somewhat, but this this is actually the band’s first album for five years and their ninth overall. It could mark a fresh start, and the genre getting a re-boot with some guesting by Roots Manuva and Benjamin Biolay. It certainly sounds like summer festival fayre. Out on Fly Agaric Records.
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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