J Mascis – Elastic Days
In the same way that Neil Young's solo work was much gentler than his rockier Crazy Horse albums, the Dinosaur Jr. frontman’s latest solo work (he's released four now since reforming his old band in 2005) is acoustic, slower, softer, reflective, funny, and rather beautiful. The title track and Web So Dense are two to try before you buy. Out on Sub Pop.
J Mascis – Elastic Days
Liela Moss – My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth
Storms, mountains, seas, rivers and animals, all are present here the Duke Spirit singer's solo project, reaching into new territory away from usual band. Writing from her rural Somerset home and studio, and on the back of becoming a parent last year, this is wonderfully serene material that can also rise up into intensity, using piano, percussion, twinkling synths, overdubbed vocal choir and moments of lovely hush. Not unlike Kate Bush at times, this is meditative, otherworldly, exploring whole new levels of noise, and more importantly, blissful calm. Out on Bella Union.
Liela Moss - Memories and Faces
Part Time – Spell #6
Lo-fi, low-key, though more studio produced than before indie pop of of highly accessible, smooth-flowing sensitivity by David Loca, here with his sixth, also joined by Ariel Pink on the single I Can Treat You Better. It’s that upbeat yet wistful and melancholy in Loca's delivery that makes all joyously easy to listen to, yet never shallow. Out on Tough Love.
Part Time - Before You Fall Apart (and rest of album)
Muse – Simulation Theory
The behemoth stadium-filling trio return with their eighth album, sticking to the idea, originally put across by Queen's Brian May, that "if a thing's worth doing, it's worth overdoing". Spectacularly over-the-top again it is then, in a dark, dystopian way, with more 80s synths and strange attempts to be funky, but continuing to predict how algorithms and robots will conquer us into the singularity, with showy argeggios on Blockade, and equal levels of rock drama on Algorithm, The Dark Side, and Thought Contagion. There are also odd moments of acoustic balladeer tour-tired moaning on Something Human. Here is a band trying to break out of its mould, but finding, like the subject in hand, those rock robots are taking over, and it's too late. Out on Warner Brothers.
Muse - Algorithm
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers – Bought to Rot
Fierce, self-effacing indie punk from the Georgia-born frontwoman of Florida's Against Me!, here with her solo project, bristling with sharp, funny barbed lines and searing riffs. “I’m on top of the world at the end of the world with you,” she sings on Apocalypse Now (& Later). Born to wear black in every way, this is an album to blow away the cobwebs with a romantic nihilism. Out on Bloodshot Records
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers – Apocalypse Now (& Later)
Various – JD Twitch presents Kreaturen der Nacht
Definitely the most interesting compilation out this week (they grow in number before Christmas), the Strut label's compilation, curated by Optimo’s JD Twitch, is classics, rarities and oddities from Germany’s original post-punk and DIY scene, from 1979 to 1984 including Die Haut, Sprung Aus Den Wolken, Malaria!, Leben Und Arbeiten, Mania D and more. It includes a 36-page booklet with rare photographs and interviews. Out on Strut.
Leben Und Arbeiten - Amanita
Boygenius – Boygenius EP
EP of the week comes from a fascinating female trio of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, three singer-songwriters who are still in their own ascendancy with a couple of albums each but form a fun 'supergroup' the concept of which is a parody of the musical 'mansplainer' type. Out on Matador.
Boygenius - Me & My Dog
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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