THIS WEEKS ESSENTIAL NEW RELEASES Friday 10th May 2019

Posted: May 14, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC, THIS WEEKS ESSENTIAL PURCHASES
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Robert Crumb

This week we have the superb new LP from Maps, taking this psychedelic atmosphere and injecting it with a healthy dose of percussive heft and placing more of an emphasis on the jagged time signatures and heady vocal reverbs. Moving beyond this heady mix and into more grounded territory, we get the big new indie release everyone’s been waiting for, and the brilliant ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’ certainly doesn’t disappoint. Filled with all of the smooth and sweet vocal flourishes you’d expect from Mac Demarco, a smooth loungey groove into his already super relaxed sound.

Please check out the new A.A. Bondy this new LP guarantees melodic undercurrent of folk and Americana being all but completely disguised by shadowy synths and cavernous reverbed bass, not to mention a plethora of technological flourishes to really ramp the enjoyment up. The new one from Holly Herndon, bolstered with Herndon’s HUGE vocal presence. Coming soon is the new Raconteurs LP ‘Help Us Stranger’ released on the 21st of June.

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Charly Bliss – Young Enough

Charly Bliss have evolved from the bunch of scrappy upstarts behind their brash punk debut Guppy, to the confident, assured artists who have produced the comparatively dynamic and unapologetically pop Young Enough. But, for lead singer Eva Hendricks, the path of this evolution was fraught, as her lyrics inspired by a past abusive relationship show. Songwriting became a source of respite, and, eventually, redemption. “You go through experiences of loss or extreme pain and you just keep moving,” Eva says. “You look around and go, how has the world not stopped? But it is also powerful. It’s like, I’m still here, I’m not a person who is ruled by pain, I still like who I am.”

Chat Room and Young Enough are new sonic lynchpins, as is the soaring, mini epic, Fighting In the Dark. The delicate synth confessional Hurt Me also felt, as Eva puts it, “like something we hadn’t explored yet.” The entire record sounds like a new realm, from the deceptively easeful confessional Capacityto the propulsive, more classic pop of Hard To Believe. In the end, Young Enough feels joyful and celebratory, but also infused with a new sense of depth and maturity. “I want people to feel strong when they listen to this record,” says Eva. “Like you’re working through some shit but you feel really strong and beautiful, even if you’re in a lot of pain. That’s what I want people to feel. The opposite of broken.” For fans of Veruca Salt, Pixies and The Breeders.

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Holly Herndon – Proto

Holly’s third full-length album Proto isn’t about A.I., but much of it was created in collaboration with her own A.I. ‘baby’, Spawn. For the album, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, developers and an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing, and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion.

Eternal follows the 2018 release of Holly and Jlin’s collaborative song Godmother (feat. Spawn). The skittering track, which was created by Spawn reimagining the artworks of her ‘godmother’ Jlin in a trained model of her mother’s voice with no editing or sample trickery, was praised everywhere from NPR to The Guardian to New York Times, and elsewhere.

You can hear traces of Spawn throughout the album, developed in partnership with long time collaborator Mathew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace, and even eavesdrop on the live training ceremonies conducted in Berlin, in which hundreds of people were gathered to teach Spawn how to identify and reinterpret unfamiliar sounds in group call-and-response singing sessions; a contemporary update on the religious gathering Holly was raised amongst in her upbringing in East Tennessee.

Just as Platform forewarned of the manipulative personal and political impacts of prying social media platforms long before popular acceptance, Proto is a euphoric and principled statement setting the shape of things to come.

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Songs: Ohia – Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions

The Lionessis the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers – Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness. The avant-garde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina’s songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best.

We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different. We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love – an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love.

And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album’s worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being. These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they’re also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina’s well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn Wondrous Love. While he may have had his new love in mind, one can’t help but think of Molina’s legacy as he softly warbles “Into eternity I will sing / Into eternity I will sing.” You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you.

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The Dream Syndicate – These Times

There are two phases of The Dream Syndicate. There was the band with revolving lineups that existed from 1982 to 1988 and made four albums includingThe Days of Wine and Roses and have influenced bands and delighted fans in the years since. And then there’s the band that reunited in 2012 and is closing in on its seventh year with nary a lineup change. This 21st Century version of the Dream Syndicate releasedHow Did I Find Myself Here in 2017 to universal acclaim, no small feat for a band reuniting after almost three decades. With that reintroduction and a full year of touring behind them, the Dream Syndicate had the freedom to take it all somewhere new, to dig a little deeper, get outside of themselves a little bit. Their new album These Times feels like a late-night radio show that you might have heard as a kid, drifting off into dreams and wondering the next morning if any of it was real.

So, what does it sound like? If How Did I Find Myself Herewas a 10 pm record, all swagger and cathartic explosion, then These Times is the 2 am sibling, moodier and more mercurial, the band acting as DJs of their own overnight radio station, riffing on an idea of what a Dream Syndicate album could be at this moment in time. It is Radio DS19.

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Lydia Ainsworth – Phantom Forest

Lydia Ainsworth’s third album, Phantom Forest, introduces a lush, complex dream world that the singer, composer, and producer created and inhabited largely on her own. She produced all the songs, and wrote and performed everything on the self-released collection outside of a re-imagined cover of Pink Floyd’s Green is the Colour and 2 other tracks (The Time, Give It Back To You), which started as instrumentals written by Survive’s Kyle Dixon (who composed the Stranger Things soundtrack with his bandmate Michael Stein), to which Ainsworth wrote melodies and added lyrics. Phantom Forest is a beautiful, vast collection that mixes the historical and the hands on, with hooks about the apocalypse and people obsessively using face-recognition software to see what paintings their face match with, in search of some kind of connection. It’s a journey that holds up to close listening (and lyric reading) and to dancefloors, but that can also exist on a purely emotional plane. In all cases, it asks that you listen, and take some kind of action.

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The Beths – Warm Blood

The Beths debut EP – available for the first time on (Pink) Vinyl. This EP is the prequel to their debut album Future Me Hates Me which is much loved release. The Beths’ Warm Blood is a strong contender for the catchiest record you’ve never heard. Formed when four jazz students at the University of Auckland bonded over their shared love of the pop-punk sounds of their youth, The Beths bring new energy to the genre. This 5-song debut EP, a deliriously pleasurable statement of purpose, comes crammed with enough blissful hooks to carry through most bands’ careers.

Listeners for whom the tag “New Zealand indie rock” brings to mind the Flying Nun sound of bands like The Clean and The Chills may be surprised to find Warm Blood’s five unstoppable tunes landing closer to artists like Slant 6 and The Breeders. The nimble guitar work here moves from heavy riffing reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney to hazily bending lines that would make Stephen Malkmus and Mary Timony beam, while the joyous vocal harmonies from all four members bubble and swell to ecstaticcrescendos that channel The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.

With impeccable production from guitarist Jonathan Pearce and stellar musicianship across the board, Warm Blood is a non-stop delight. Tracks like lead off track and first single Whatever, the ridiculously addictive standout Idea / Intent, andRush Hour 3, a playful ode to romance in this era of download-and-chill franchise films, take delight in the challenge of breathing new energy into the limitations of the 3-minute pop song.

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Morrissey – Wedding Bells Blues

Limited Clear Yellow 7″ vinyl from Morrissey’s covers album California Sun featuring Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day on Wedding Bell Blues originally by The Fifth Dimension. Lydia Night of the Regrettes also joins Armstrong and Morrissey on the track. It comes backed by Brow of My Beloved

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Mikal Cronin – Undertow / Breathe

Mikal Cronin is back in the Famous class fold with his beautiful new 7”. This is Mikal’s first new solo material since his excellent album MCIII back in 2015. It’s two tracks of perfect guitar-pop craftsmanship

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Linda Guilala – Estado Natural

Spanish shoegaze trio Linda Guilala’s new single is the third instalment in the Sonic Cathedral Singles Club.

Estado Natural(which translates as ‘natural state’) is the follow-up to last year’s Mucho Mejor and is an indie-pop classic in the making, all driving rhythms and synths swooping and fizzing like Stereolab in a Soda Stream. The flipside, Espacio De Tiempo (‘space of time’), is a much more Lush and laid-back affair. Limited edition of 350 on red vinyl.

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Coming soon is the new Raconteurs LP ‘Help Us Stranger’ released on the 21st of June.

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