Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride
First album in six years by the New York alt-rockers, with a double album that expands from their previous albums of clever baroque pop. While the singles Harmony Hall and This Life have that light clever perkiness that echo Paul Simon, the kitchen sink is open to all sorts of other styles - gospel choir, soul, country, flamenco, 80s Pet Shop Boys style pop, African, early 70s psych a la Grateful Dead. With its planet Earth cover, and as the album moves into the territory of How Long?, Unbearably White, and Rich Men, it is all tinged with a sense of upbeat gloom, a discursive experimentalism contemplating our political and climate demise. "“The rising tide’s already lapping at the gate,” sings Koenig on Flower Moon. A bold, album filled with strange sounds, dialogue, bird sounds and uncertainly, ending in the wary unease of piano ballad Jerusalem, New York, Berlin. Plenty here to contemplate. Out on Columbia.
Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall
Drahla – Useless Coordinates
The Leeds three-piece of Luciel Brown (vocals/guitar), Rob Riggs (bass) and Mikey Ainsley (drums) release their debut LP, a superbly scratchy, Sonic Youth-style postpunk work of energy and urgency, with added anarchic screechy saxophone by Chris Duffin, while Brown half-talks her way through it all with sneering, visceral sensuousness with phrases such as: "Have you ever seen the sun in Cellophane, security check in a violent sunset?" on Stimulus For Living. Other standout tracks include Pyramid Estate and React/Revolt. Packed with explosive sounds and punchiness, a great debut. Out on Captured Tracks.
Drahla - Stimulus For Living
Kedr Livanskiy – Your Need
The moniker for Yana Kedrina – Russian DJ, producer and singer – established as a leading ‘underground’ artist and whose new release has a retro shoegaze electronica about it that's altogether offbeat and different. After her debut EP, January Sun, in 2016, and much more melancholy full debut LP, Ariadna (2017), this new one has a more upbeat style, delving into her DJing interest in house, breakbeat, and British garage, bringing out the old-school with a new tinge of Russian poker-faced charm. Much more than just another Russian doll, but full of layers and other selves to discover. Out on 2MR.
Kedr Livanskiy – Kiska
Filthy Friends – Emerald Valley
Second album by this sort-of-supergroup that includes Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney and Peter Buck of REM, this is furiously direct, political stuff. It's quite a combination that takes no prisoners, starting off by targeting November Man (Donald Trump of course). In Last Chance County, it is bus journey to a nowhere, pointless job, and Angels is a compassionate portrayal of a migrant family, while One Flew East is a slower, but determined progression. Searing guitar from Buck is the perfect complement to the power of Tucker's voice that can be both angrily punk and soar with a tenderness. A great album to blow off some steam. Out on Kill Rock Stars.
Filthy Friends – Last Chance County
Big Thief – UFOF
Third album from the New York four-piece, who from the hard rock of the first have moved to indie to soft, gentle, rather beautiful acoustic guitars in this latest release that's more in folk territory, with vocalist Adrianne Lenker decorating it all with soft, impressionist portraits of people and places. Mostly her voice is sweet and gentle, but she modulates it a shrill, shuddering vibrato on Orange, or a deeper throaty croon on Betsy, sounding like latter-day Marianne Faithfull. Overall, this is beautiful work that woozily shimmers and dapples like sunlight on rippling water. Out on 4AD.
Big Thief – UFOF
Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi – There Is No Other
Another fascinating fusion of styles, this time as the folk musician joins Italian multi-instrumentalist to concoct and connect African and Arabic sounds with songs from Europe and America as the folk star, who led the Native Daughters project, collaborates with Dublin-based artist who usually works in jazz, improvisation and early music. Giddens strong voice comes with minstrel banjo, octave violin and viola, and covers include civil rights activist Oscar Brown Jr’s Brown Baby and the traditional Wayfaring Stranger, previously sung by Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash, and yet here you'll also find Italian ballad Pizzica di San Vito and opera aria Black Swan. A wonderful landmark of collaboration. Out on Nonesuch.
Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi – I'm On My Way
Flamingods – Levitation
Psychedelic wonder with this fourth album by the alt rockers from London and Bahrain, a band founded by Kamal Rasool. Here they channel disco, funk and psychedelic sounds coming out of the Middle East and South Asia in the 70s, making a heady mixture that's funky and spicy, energetic and eclectic, with a dash of Kasabian about this as they rev up their motorbikes in the desert. Out on Moshi Moshi.
Flamingods – Marigold
Jesse Mac Cormack – Now
Strong, very promising debut album for the singer and multi-instrumentalist from Montreal A mixture folk, rock and pop, in a sound that has some slithers of Talk Talk about it, rippling with landscapes and other sensual sounds and a singing voice with a vulnerable melancholy reminiscent of the great and sadly missed Mark Hollis. Standout tracks include the rockier Stay, the poppier Love No Go, and the sparser Give A Chance. Out on Secret City.
Jesse Mac Cormack – Give A Chance
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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