Posted: June 21, 2021 in MUSIC
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Well the big one this week is Tom McLung’s newest album as Francis Lung, and it’s a doozie. There’s obvious nods to classic rock and prog of the 70’s, whilst retaining the sunshine pop aesthetic. Full of clever key changes and dual guitar solos, knowing references and soaring melodies akimbo, it’s stunningly clever and brilliantly written throughout, and a good distance from his equally excellent but entirely different early work. The video for ‘the Let Down’ is a particularly wonderful and decidedly oddball offering, but illustrates perfectly the humour and playfulness with which this record was conceived. It’s a fine line between playful and silly, and ‘Miracle’ is every bit the serious record that knows how to have fun, a perfect balance.

Kings Of Convenience, returning for the first time in twelve long years. Think rippling lyrical streams, dappled harmonies and percussive fjords, leading into easy listening tributaries before landing in a still and sun speckled sea. It’s immediately restful and gorgeously contemplative.

Also there’s a superb debut EP from West Yorkshire’s latest musical Wunderkinds, The Lounge Society hailing from (where else) Hebden Bridge. It’s a unique sounding but still comfortingly familiar mix of psychedelic rock (what do they put in the water there?), indie and more dancefloor orientated sounds like disco and rave. It’s great to hear so many wonderful bands coming out of the area, and exciting to think about what this promising band have coming in the future.

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Francis Lung – Miracle

Miracle is the new album from Manchester singer songwriter Francis Lung on Memphis Industries Despite its serious subject matter, Miracle is far from austere in sound, marrying the cinematic, dreamlike quality of Francis’s earlier music with the pared-back charm of great singer-songwriters like Judee Sill, Jeff Tweedy and Elliott Smith.

Miracle was produced by Francis in collaboration with Brendan Williams (Dutch Uncles, Matthew Halsall, Kiran Leonard) and Robin Koob (who co-arranged and performed strings). The result is a cohesive, deeply personal record, which is as vital as it is vulnerable.

One random person will get a Signed Test Pressing. No purchase necessary to be with a chance to get this.

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Frank Zappa  – Zappa ’88: The Last US Show

The first posthumous archival release from the 1988 touring band focuses on the historical last show Frank Zappa ever played in the U.S. The final U.S. concert was at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, on March 25th, 1988, featuring the first official release of the much-talked-about “The Beatles Medley”; newly mixed by Craig Parker Adams from the 48-track digital master tapes;  Vinyl four-LP box set; Zappa / UMe records

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Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – Carnage

Carnage is a new album by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, recorded over a period of weeks during lockdown. Although the pair have composed and recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, this is the first time they have released an entire album of songs as a duo. Cave describes the album as “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe.”

“Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity,” says Ellis, “the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days.” Cave and Ellis’ sonic and lyrical adventurism continues apace on Carnage, an album that emerged almost by accident out of the downtime created by the long, anxious, global emergency. Carnage is a record for these uncertain times – one shot through with moments of distilled beauty and that resonates with an almost defiant sense of hope.

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The Lounge Society – Silk For The Starving EP

Calder Valley’s The Lounge Society release their Dan Carey-produced debut EP Silk For The Starving – out on Speedy Wunderground (Squid, black midi, Loyle Carner, Black Country, New Road). With their first two singles under their belts – “Generation Game”, the fastest selling 7″ for the award-winning label, and “Burn The Heather” – plus a raft of Ones To Watch accolades for 2021, there is much anticipation for what lies next for the band.

In early 2020, “Generation Game” announced the band as artists shaping powerful narratives around a fast-fragmenting society. With the lyric “what will the US do?” they served up a painfully prescient prediction of American unrest. Follow-up single “Burn The Heather” made a left-hand turn for the more punk-funk, sneering at culture wars and the damaging impact of a class divide.

New single “Cain’s Heresy” shakes with the propulsion of a nimble rhythm section, full of bite and scorn, simultaneously swinging angrily at a negligent political class (“The death of four souls is less than a kick in the teeth, for them”), the threat of misinformation (“Poisonous ideals on the screen breed a vicious way of thinking, off the screen”) and the noxious follow-the-leader march of celebrity culture (“They’re servants to fame”). The EP title Silk For The Starving in itself probes at a society that routinely neglects the needs of the have-nots. The Lounge Society sing about what they know then. Make no mistake, this is the sound of young England: articulate, enraged and energised. And – perhaps crucially – highly danceable too. It should give hope to anyone who has lost faith in the future, because here the future is in safe hands.

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Amythyst Kiah – Wary Strange

Amythyst Kiah is redefining the limits of roots music. Today, the mould-shattering singer / songwriter who Rolling Stone calls “one of Americana’s great up-and-coming secrets,” makes her Rounder Records debut with the release of a radically reimagined version of her song “Black Myself.”

With an unforgettable voice that’s both unfettered and exquisitely controlled, Amythyst’s ability to cross boundaries is born from struggle. Growing up a Black and LGBTQ+ woman in the Bible Belt, she experienced severe social anxiety, grief, alienation – and ultimately, the hard-won triumph of total self-acceptance.

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Kings Of Convenience – Peace Or Love

Peace or Love is the sound of two old friends exploring the latest phase of their lives together and finding new ways to capture that elusive magic. recorded across five years in five different cities, the album sounds as fresh as spring: 11 songs about life and love with the alluring beauty, purity and emotional clarity that you would expect from Kings of Convenience.

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The Catenary Wires – Birling Gap

Indie pop comes of age! Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey love pop songs, but pop songs with an edge. With their early bands Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, they were often dismissed by critics of the time as fey or ‘twee’, but this prejudice has since been revised: some of those sweet fizzy songs were about date-rape, and the band were an influential part of the movement that became riot grrrl.

On their new album as The Catenary Wires, the songs are as strong as ever, full of sweet melody and rich with vocal harmonies. But the tunes are now vehicles for startlingly honest adult concerns: the fractured relationships, anxieties, passions and politics of people who live on an island that’s turning in on itself. Like the Go-Betweens and XTC before them, The Catenary Wires know that pop music can convey dark, sardonic, complex emotions, just as well as it can celebrate teenage angst.

The album depicts England, not just in its lyrics, but in its music. The Catenary Wires have listened to the songs and stories England has comforted itself with over the decades, and re-imagined them. Canterbury Lanes presents a duetting couple, old now and worn down, but still aspiring to put their folk band back together, hoping to rekindle the idealistic flames of the early 1970s. Mirrorball, fizzy with syn-drums and Casio, presents another couple – middle-aged and unattached, who find unexpected love at a retro 80s disco. In the 70s-flavoured pop of Always on my Mind, love appears again, almost by surprise, conjured up by an old photo in a pile of memorabilia.

The opening track, Face on the Rail Line, is a love song set in the now, full of emotion, but shot through with the paranoia that we all feel, living at a time when we are constantly in contact, but rarely communicate the truth. The last two songs on the album, Like the Rain, and The Overview Effect, are anxious romances, set in a fragile world.

The Catenary Wires are now a five-piece band. The other members have impressive musical pedigrees of their own. Fay Hallam was in Makin’ Time, and now releases records in her own name. Andy Lewis played bass in the Weller Band, and has more recently worked with Louis Phillippe and Judy Dyble. Ian Button was in Thrashing Doves and Death in Vegas. These talented musicians elevate the songs, taking the arrangements onto another level.

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Pink Floyd – Live In Montreux 1970

This double vinyl LP contains nine tracks originally broadcast by Swiss Radio in November 1970 in excellent quality. Material is taken from all sections of the Pink Floyd’s output to date with two tracks that do not appear on the band’s official albums. The instrumental interplay between the four members is particularly strong, reflecting the many gigs the band had played together.

Side One: 1. Astronomy Domine 2. Fat Old Sun.

Side Two: 1. Cymbaline 2. Embryo.

Side Three: 1. Green Is The Colour 2. Careful With That Axe, Eugene 3. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.

Side Four: 1. A Saucerful Of Secrets 2. Just Another Twelve Bar

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The Allman Brothers Band – “Bear’s Sonic Journals Fillmore East, February 1970 deluxe edition

A three-CD set, offering the complete recordings from February. 11th, 13th-14th, 1970, with expanded booklet; Allman Brothers Band Recording Company.

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