Suede – The Blue Hour
Suede came into prominence in the early-90s recession, and led the way in dark, brooding indie. Now in new, fraught times, this, their eighth studio album and the third in their comeback era, has just as much power, but now leaves the city and was written when they relocated to rural Somerset. The picture his hardly idyllic. It’s an album that is both experimental and also revisit the sound of past glories such as The Wild Ones and Dog Man Star, but with all sorts of oddities – spoken word and monk choruses, and singing about digging up a dead bird. It was written at the same time as Brett Anderson's memoir, Coal Black Mornings, in other words, gloriously dark. Out on Suede Ltd /Warner.
Suede - Life Is Golden
Prince – Piano & A Microphone 1983
Never intended for release, even after his final, tragic piano and microphone tour, but unlike some of those nineties and noughties, sometimes overlong indulgences the Purple One put out independently, this posthumous album is a true gem, revealing yet more of his limitless talent, not only as a singer, but especially as pianist, with sometimes, raw, often complex and emotional extremes to his repertoire, from blues to gospel, soul and of course funk, all from a man at the peak of his powers. Flowing into each other we hear a short rendition of Purple Rain to tracks such as American civil war spiritual Mary Don’t You Weep, and a ghostly version of Strange Relationship from Sign O’ the Times. A must for Prince fans, a revelation for pianists and everyone else. Out on Warner Brothers.
Prince - Mary Don’t You Weep
Christine and the Queens - Chris
Available in English and French versions, Héloïse Letissier returns with her second album comes in double CD and LP format, after the smash hit of 2016's Chaleur Humaine. It's cleverly constructed, sophisticated electronic pop that hits every international zeitgeist - Letissier has multi-talents and many sides, a dancer with a pansexual, transgressive, muscular schoolboy-look persona called Chris, and a sound that echoes elements of early 80s Michael Jackson, 70s Chic and 00s Daft Punk. Almost too clever and commercially sophisticated really, but it will be massive. Out on Because Records.
Christine and the Queens - Girlfriend
Gazelle Twin - Pastoral
The second, and perhaps more interesting album this week that exposes the rural idyll myth, is this four-year project by Elizabeth Bernholz, in which folk songs come in looping echoes, harpsichord, traditional recorder and electronica. It all conjures up images of village squares for torture and public executions and other scary practices, flies buzzing around the dead, xenophobia and tea-room gossip that removes the quixotic and bucolic from the quaint, replacing it with the queasy. It’s also devastating picture of the so-called green and pleasant England – past and present. Also worth checking out is her J.G. Ballard-inspired A/V show Kingdom Come released in 2017, and 2014's equally disturbing and strange album, Unflesh. A unique talent and voice. Out on Anti Ghost Moon Ray
Gazelle Twin - Hobby Horse
Beak> – >>>
As the chevron arrows indicate, this is Beak's third album and six years since >>, and is very welcome return to the dark, brooding world of Billy Fuller, Will Young, and Portishead's Geoff Barrow, with bass-heavy riffs and disembodied vocals. Overall the sound is less fuzzy, sharper and more penetrating. Outstanding track Brean Down, to continue the rural theme this week, is inspired by a remote coastal peninsula near the Bristol Channel. Out on Invada Records/Temporary Residence.
Beak> – Brean Down
Dizzee Rascal – Don't Gas Me (EP)
The breakthrough Mercury prize boy of 2003 here puts aside the more Bonkers mainstream fun of the successful man, and here returns to his original corner with this 20-minute EP, getting back to his grime and rap roots with sharp material proving he’s still got it. Out on Universal Island.
Dizzee Rascal - Don't Gas Me
Cash Savage and the Last Drinks – Good Citizens
FIred up by and during the runup to the Australian vote on LGBTQ marriage rights, this is a confident, cocky, clever, angry, punchy new release by the Melbourne singer, Cash Savage, with feels full of brim and defiance, channelling the power of Patti Smith. Probably the best yet, and another fabulous band from Down Under coming up in our selections.
Cash Savage and the Last Drinks – Pack Animals
Black Honey - Black Honey
Izzy B Phillips, a fascinating combination of Blondie, Shirley Manson and David Lynch inspiration, fronts this guitar indie band debut with real power and aplomb. I think that says it all. Out on Foxfive Records.
Black Honey – Yellow Today
Sauna Youth - Death
Third album in a trilogy, but hopefully not their last, this is straight out of the box, refreshing punk by the band that formed in Brighton and moved to London. Fabulous live too, they run in parellel to the style Brooklyn’s brilliant Bodega. Out on Upset The Rhythm.
Sauna Youth - Unreal City
Sobrenadar – Y
Buenos Aires-based Paula García, also known as Sobrenadar, which translates as supernatant, in other words floating on the surface of a liquid. That pretty much describes this echoey ’70s, ’80s, ambient, downtempo, Air, Boards Of Canada, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tangerine Dream-style work. Great for listening in dark rooms late at night. Out on Sonic Cathedral.
Sobrenadar - Habita
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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