Erland Cooper – Sule Skerry
The frontman of s The Magnetic North and Erland & the Carnival returns with his second solo album and it's a beaut – delicate, profound, filled with moments of stillness and reflection like raindrops on a pond. Part of a triptych of albums inspired his homeland of Orkney and another native, poet George Mackay Brown, it is filled with tales of sea, land, mermaids and more. Out on Phases Records.
Erland Cooper – First Of The Tide
The National – I Am Easy To Find
This eighth album by the Ohio band fronted by Matt Berninger is a fascinating one - more of a full 68-minute listen experience than one with particular tracks, and is also released alongside a shorter film directed by Mike Mills, and starring Alicia Vikander, as shown below and the two works make almost inextricable companions - the film created like a piece of music, the album like a film, full of scenes melding into one another and surrounded by stillness. Packed with literary references, if any tracks do stand out they include the slowly unfurling opener You Had Your Soul With You, and Not In Kansas, which seeks out a home in its melancholy, clamberingly melodious beauty. Out on 4AD.
The National – I Am Easy To Find (film)
BCUC – The Healing
BCUC, full name Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness, hail from Soweto, South Africa, where the 7-piece have become a major musical force with a highly developed, energised and enchanting hybrid of bass and percussion alongside Zulu chanting. This music avoid conventional song structures, instead the three 18-minute tracks coming waves of sound, from the quiet to the stormy, with the the music ebbing and flowing in energy, the wilder voice of Zithulele Nkosi moving to the calmer, more soothing, soulful voice of Kgomotso Mokone. The title points to a tradition of music as a form of therapy, of trance doctors or the gnawa music of Morocco. Here's a taste of them performing alongside rapper and poet Saul Williams. Out on Buda Musique.
BCUC - Isivunguvungu
Josephine Wiggs – We Fall
Alongside all her past and present success as bassist with The Breeders, Wiggs has also made solo albums, and this latest is a sparse, slow, contemplative and melodic, echoing work by Brian Eno, Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. She plays everything on the album apart from some added drums and electronica by longtime friend Jon Mattock. As a keen mycologist, this is an album that could easily accompany gallery of Wiggs' collection of mushrooms she’s photographed in her travels, a soothing bucolic work of walking the woods. Out on The Sound of Sinners.
Josephine Wiggs – Time Does Not Bring Relief
Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
An aggressively vigorous, funny and sweary by the young Northampton rapper also known as Tyron Frampton, who has a growing reputation for gobsmacking live shows where he is usual stripped down to his underpants. Theresa May, the Queen and a host of other British institutions get short shrift in this refreshing protest against the state of things. With a stormy ratttatat of beats and dystopian sampled sounds and twisting anger, this is more like early Streets or Dizzy Rascal than Stormzy or Skepta. Standout tracks include Polaroid and Drug Dealer. Out on Method Records.
Slowthai - Nothing Great About Britain
Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired to A Hellish Extent
A ironic-laden, downbeat title like this catches the eye, and the Scottish 22-year-old is a dour and gruff and self-deprecating in public appearance, but his songs soar with emotion and power that are catapulting him into mainstream success – a little like Rag'N'Bone Man. The songwriting skills and the voice are certainly there, but how much heartbroken despair can we take? Certainly a huge talent, and the video for Someone You Loved has a refreshingly humorous disregard for vanity or coolness. Out on Virgin EMI.
Lewis Capaldi - Grace
Steel Pulse – Mass Manipulation
Like their ska contemporaries from Coventry, The Specials, the Birmingham reggae band are celebrating over forty years of music, and with their original album attacking the far right and the National Front, their music remains as relevant today. Racism is an issue in these songs, in the first studio for 15 years (2004's African Holocaust) alongside more of the world's ills – human trafficking, child prostitution and climate change. With only frontman David Hinds and keyboard player Selwyn Brown remaining from the 1978 debut, this is slightly poppier, more rappy than their older roots stuff, but the heart remains in the right place. with the brassy Cry Cry Blood (about the desecration of a Rasta community) and World Gone Mad as prime examples of matching sincere moral outrage with solid music that rings loud and true. Out on Rootfire Cooperative.
Steel Pulse - Cry Cry Blood
Hey Colossus – Four Bibles
Now the 12th album by the six-piece from London and south-west England, another work of eerie adventure, and mesmeric experiment and powerful heavy rock. Still somewhat under the radar, they are a force on the live scene, cropping up in all kinds of alternative venues from a doctor’s waiting room in Salford, an industrial unit in Liege and a vast field next to a river in Portugal, their forte is a cultured transmission between loud and soft, from tracks such as Memory Gore, to It's a Low. Now for the first time on the Alter label.
Hey Colossus – Four Bibles
Carly Rae Jepson – Dedicated
The Canadian pop singer returns with her fourth album after the huge success of 2015's Emotion, and slightly less overwrought singing style, a little more nuance in the commerciality (think banging jackhammer down to tapping sledgehammer), and softer sheen. There's more seductive style on No Drug Like Me, a funk on Julien, and a little been of cheeky Cyndi Lauper on Want You in My Room. But is it still too much? You decide. Out on Schoolboy/Interscope.
Carly Rae Jepson – Too Much
Tyler The Creator - Igor
With loungey, Roy Ayers-esque grooves, Prince-like echoes, and OutKast echoes, and guest vocalists including Pharrell Williams, Frank Ocean, CeeLo Green and Solange, this is actually one of the American rapper's better albums, rambling at times, but bursting with ideas and creativity if you can get by his past, somewhat dodgier side on sexuality and women. In fact he raps a less. This more of a soul album than a hip-hop one. Out on Columbia.
Tyler The Creator - Igor's Theme
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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