Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury
Brilliant follow-up to 2017’s Come Play The Trees, from which we previously profiled on a Song of the Day sample of Johnny Guitar, this is surely the London-based band’s big breakthrough. It’s an album filled driving energy, wit and invention, a heady mix of postpunk, electronica and krautrock psychedelia, a writhing root-growth cross-pollination of Hawkwind meets Moonlandingz meets Goat. Continuing with their log-wrapped mic stands and synths, the tree camouflage costumes are now mixed with smart city suits to lampoon property developers, hence the album title, Stunning Luxury and the video for Drink and Glide. They also cover subject matter from Swedish flat-pack furniture, dystopian futures, social media and Andrei Tarkovsky. Surely now set to branch out and grow massive. Springing out now on The Leaf Label.
Snapped Ankles – Rechargeable
Self Esteem – Compliments Please
Rebecca Taylor has made several albums as Slow Club with Charles Taylor, she's toured with the anarchic Moonlandingz, and has guested on with other artists including Django Django, but this time, after a bitter relationship breakup, this album is the new her, no more pleasing others, but doing it her way, and Self Esteem, with this ironic title, says it all. The Sheffield singer is fulfilling her ambition to do soulful pop – think Destiny's Child with a northern twist of humour, passion and powerful vocal harmonies with her mostly female backing backing band who also have the moves. Standout tracks include The Best, I'm Shy, Favourite Problem, and the way Peach You Had to Pick. Go Rebecca. You’ve got the voice and you’re worth it. Out on Fiction.
Self Esteem – The Best
The Comet Is Coming – Trust in the Life Force of the Deep Mystery
The London trio may be labelled to be of the jazz genre, but their new album is vary much a lively dance-electronica fusion that brings together influences as diverse as Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, 70s prog King Crimson, and 80s Pig Bag. Leading British saxophone player Shabaka Hutchings pours out the melodies alongside the driving drums of Max Hallett and synth player Dan Leavers introducing rich textures and sounds. An otherwordly, visceral treat, including a track that brings in an intense, accompanying poem by Kate Tempest. Out on Impulse.
The Comet Is Coming – Summon The Fire
Alice Pheobe Lou – Paper Castles
South African-born and with Berlin busking time under her belt, Alice Phoebe Lou is an independent singer-songwriter with a pure, soulful pop voice, charmingly puckish, elfin looks and a lovely, humorous, self-deprecating persona when performing. She has a wonderful warble in her voice, and an occasionally girlish whoop, but overall a vocal delivery that's like warm honey with a fleck of hot chilli. Pretty potent. As fragile as the music business can be, with a fast-growing following, let us hope her strong songwriting foundations and this fines castle builds onwards and upwards, rather than blow away in the wind.
Alice Pheobe Lou – Skin Crawl
Our Native Daughters – Songs of Our Native Daughters
Not your everyday collaboration - four black female banjo players tackling issues from gender to race, slavery, sexual assault, and with the instrument traditionally associated with white bluegrass music. But this is something else. African–Americans Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah have created a gorgeous album, not merely with their playing but their singing, with brings together folk and deep south soul. Out on Smithsonian Folkways.
Our Native Daughters – (The Making of) Mama's Cryin' Long
Royal Trux – White Stuff
First new material in 19 years from the Los Angeles pair and former partners Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty, but are they still working together, or has the band split again already? The latter has recently said he's not involved and "it's her and her seven dwarves". But perhaps this all part of the bewildering theatre of this brash, witty, edgy profound indie band who have so many brilliant albums under their belt. Is this another one, or a car crash? Or indeed a wonderful car crash banging out entertaining sounds and lyrics? Too early to tell, but, definitely some form of collision, and always worth a listen. Out on Fat Possum.
Royal Trux – White Stuff
Hand Habits – Placeholder
The solo project of New Yorker Meg Duffy who has recorded with the likes of The War on Drugs, Weyes Blood, and Amber Arcades. This began as her solo singer-songwriter idea but developed into a full band. It is pleasingly powerful, melancholy slow, simmering, but shimmering sun-bleached indie pop with a big dash of alt-country. Out on Saddle Creek.
Hand Habits - Placeholder
Hejira – Thread Of Gold
The London trio's second LP released through their own label is at times an exquisitely beautiful exploration of personal roots, namely vocalist, bass guitarist and co-songwriter Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne’s changing relationship with her homeland of Ethiopia after the death of her father, when she took band with her on a pilgrimage to Addis Ababa, and other members also experienced loss and bereavement. Profound, illuiminating and moving. Out on Lima Limo Records.
Hejira – Joyful Mind
Robert Forster – Inferno
The second solo album by the Australian artist in 11 years, and his first for four, This is fabulous, catchy, classic acoustic pop, with environmental themes as in the title track, filled his characteristic wry, perfectly weighted dark humour in lyrics, to other themes and beautifully told stories mainly with acoustic guitar such as in the songs No Fame and One Bird In The Sky. Clever, evocative beautiful work. Out on Tapete.
Robert Forster – Inferno (Brisbane In Summer)
Teen - Good Fruit
The Canadian sister trio mix meditative sparse songwriter in this fourth album with work that seems haunted, in a slowed down, broken form, by the ghost of Prince in style and melody, from the funk echoes on Connection, and Radar, but also Pretend, which alongside their rich vocal harmonies and building swirls, has something of Sometimes In Snows in April about it, mixed with Cocteau Twins. Alongside other tracks, such as Only Water, this is vocal-rich pop that builds and grows on you. Out on Carpark Records.
Teen – Pretend
Durand Jones and the Indications – American Love Call
Classic, old-school 70s-style vintage soul with horns and orchestral backing by the Louisiana-born vocalist with a new record made in Brooklyn that transcends its time. Think of a sound that channels a slower James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Charles Bradley mixed into a smooth, golden, honeyed funk, and you've got it in soulful spades. Out on Dead Oceans.
Durand Jones and the Indications - Morning in America
The Japanese House – Good At Falling
Lush, slow, beat-heavy power pop by the Buckinghamshire indie band led by Amber Bain, who now release a full LP of new tracks after four previous EPs. You Seemed So Happy has an 80s feel and is typical of this dreamy, rich, full production. Out on Dirty Hit.
The Japanese House – Maybe You're The Reason
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
Don’t forget to also enjoy our voted selection of 50 or more favourite albums of 2018:
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