This is first of at least two new album roundups this week of releases from the past month:
The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land
With the album cover using an image of Michael Redgrave in the film Dead of Night, the 1940s series of vignette British horror stories, his about a mentally disturbed ventriloquist sent mad by his own dummy, this LP reuniting Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Allen isn't going to merry at all. It echoes Ghost Town by The Specials in parts, aimed as a depiction of the country. Is it accurate? Well it’s very snapshot, at times, not going in any particular direction, but has moments of brilliance dispersed with meandering confusion and a grasping for meaning and melody. Just like Britain today, I suppose. Out on Studio 13.
The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land
The Wave Pictures – Look Inside Your Heart
The second album of 2018 from the charming indie trio of David Tattersall, Franic Rozycki, and Jonny Helm is a much more upbeat and joyful album than the slower, more melancholy Brushes With Happiness. A more balanced band record rather than the more solo-based former, again this is witty, wry and sometimes even bluesy. They are still Britain's answer the Jonathan Richman, so what's not to love in a record and a band that hits such sweet spot so many times?
The Wave Pictures – Roosevelt Sykes
D.U.D.S. - Immediate
Gaining a something of a cult following, but still elusive and reclusive when it comes to any form of publicity, Manchester's uniquely innovative, rhythmically inventive post-punkers have released a second full-length album slightly under the radar, with their intricate fusion of percussive sounds, guitar twang, cornet and shouty vocals. While the last was via Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer's Castlemania label, this is an even more independent showing under Opal Tapes. Perhaps if an artist wants to release their material when fresh, it has to be Immediate. Out in all formats, including cassette.
D.U.D.S. – Not At All
Vera Sola – Shades
Debut album bringing out of the darkness a gloriously rich, ghostly, ethereal voice of the smokily beautiful American singer-songwriter. A wide range of tone, storytelling and wit is here, with an emphasis on the experience of women past and present. Coming out of touring in Elvis Perkins’ band, as well as working as a voice actor, this is an highly mature, and wonderful debut. Out on Spectraphonic Records.
Vera Sola - Small Minds
Anderson .Paak - Oxnard
A third album from the Californian rapper, again joining forces with the man who helped him into the public arena, now producing him - Dr Dre. This is the third in the 'beach' series, Oxnard in California following Venice (2014) and the brilliant Malibu (2016). This is less smooth, instead grittier work, more nasal and angrier, with Trump and gun massacres in mind, a funky, stop-start style that echoes Kendrick Lamar. who guests, alongside others including Q-Tip. A great talent clearly less settled in this, but no less interesting. Out on Aftermath Entertainment.
Anderson .Paak - Cheers feat. Q-Tip
Grapetooth – Grapetooth
Offbeat, eccentric, indie, or new wave, but certainly a grower, it's hard to define the Chicago duo of Clay Frankel and Chris Bailoni came together a few years ago through a love of Japanese synth pop, and the band name comes from a love of red wine, which explains the name. They also have a reputation for great live shows in their home city. Out on Polyvinyl Records.
Grapetooth - Trouble
Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner – The Music from Bagpuss
Glorious, especially for children, now adults, of a certain age, and surely everyone since, one would hope, a full collection of 32 songs from the wonderful children's TV series that first aired on 12 February 1974. Clunky, folky, a patchwork doll of charm, Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship brings a crispy joyous innocence, alongside the timeless charm of the narrator voice and programme creator Oliver Postgate. Shed creativity genius. Out on Earth Recordings.
Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner – The Princess Suite
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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