Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Hval’

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Wooden Shjips  –  V

Wooden Shjips, long-time leaders of the contemporary psychedelic movement, expand their sound with V. On their fifth album the quartet of Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo), Omar Ahsanuddin, Dusty Jermier, and Nash Whalen augment their already rich sound with laid back, classic summer songs. Inspired by the tumult of the modern world, and the desire to offer a contrasting vision of peace, the band has created a record that lters their trademark hypnotic grooves through an optimistic lens, resulting in music that is bright and vital. Each song shimmers with a distinctly Wooden Shjips sound, a relaxed summer vibe. This was a conscious choice, an atmospheric goal that in uenced nearly every detail: the tones, the delay types and reverbs used, as well as the synthesizer elements that color the songs. The band’s members collectively share a love of classic rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s. This commonality in their formative musical years binds them even as they live in different cities. Wooden Shjips has with V. created the most concise, laid back songs of their career. Their music is a balm of sorts, a respite from the insanity that, through its regenerative abilities, empowers continued, calm resistance. A reminder of the simple power of peace and beauty, V. is brimming with optimism and a peaceful energy, aptly timed for release at the height of spring.

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Halo Maud  –  ” Je Suis Une Île “

Halo Maud’s first release on Heavenly is a recap of the story so far ahead of an album release later this year – three tracks of this EP originally came out on a Canadian label last year, with the difference that Du Pouvoir now features some English lyrics, and À La Fin andDans La Nuit cropped up on a La Souterraine compilations in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Maud Nadal has been a member of both Moodoïd and Melody’s Echo Chamber’s live bands, and of course at times there are comparisons to be drawn with Melody’s Echo Chamber, with both teetering on a crystalline peak where extreme joy and despair meet. But if anything Nadal’s own melodies are even more indelible, and her voice turns them into vapour trails.

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Gretchen Peters – Dancing With The Beast

Dancing with the Beast, the new album from Gretchen Peters, puts female characters at the fore, from teenage girls to old women. And intentionally so. With the 2017 Women’s March and the #MeToo Movement as bookends to her writing time, Peters knew that a feminist perspective would be the critical core of the record. She admits, “You can trace the feminist DNA in my songwriting back to ‘Independence Day’ and probably before. The thing that 2017 did is just put it front and center.” Though Peters doesn’t consider herself a political writer, she is politically minded and, therefore, knew she had to address the 2016 election and all that has happened since… but in her own way. There’s a bittersweet beauty to the passing of time – the changes it brings are just as often heartbreaking as they are heartwarming. The inevitable tension that arises from that sway is Gretchen Peters‘ most trusted muse. With melody supporting that melancholy, the songs on the new album combine to lift the effort over the high artistic bar set by her last outing, 2015’s award-winning Blackbirds.

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Wand  –  Perfume

If the emblem of Wand’s Plum was the stark blue cloud a condensation, a linking between longing molecules, data hungering for more data, a flotilla of vapor between eye and sky – then Wand’s new EP reeks of something more forceful, more seductive, more intoxicating, more insidious: this is Perfume. Here are six electric hues, shocks of light that flagrantly provoke the dark, a posy’s clutch of purple, fuchsia, green and snowy white that curl against a stench of plague. Recorded between tours and fire seasons in Grass Valley, CA by Tim Green, Perfume’s potent, expansive tunes were mixed in Woodstock, NY by Daniel James Goodwin. The band features Sofia Arreguin, Evan Burrows, Robbie Cody, Cory Hanson and Lee Landey. There’s a kind of return here, a haunting, the deja vu you only take in through a curious nose. Your nose invites the world inside your skull. A familiar fragrance finds you when you thought you’d let a lover go, but it won’t linger like a lover, flickering away with the breeze toward a yawning future.

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Judee Sill  –  Songs of Rapture and Redemption: Rarities and Live

Judee Sill may not have been commercially successful in her short recording stint, but her influence looms large with recording artists such as Warren Zevon, Andy Partridge, Liz Phair, Beth Orton, Bill Callahan, Bonnie Prince Billy and more having covered her songs. The Turtles recorded Lady-O in 1969, two years before Sill’s 1971 debut album on Asylum Records contained that song. This brand new collection includes demos and live recordings that are making their debut on the vinyl format and have never sounded better. With new artwork, liner notes and deluxe packaging, this limited ROG release should not be missed.

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Cream –  BBC 1966 – 1967

Clapton, Bruce, and Baker are responsible for some of the most classic BBC live recordings of the 60s. Recorded for several different programs between November ’66 and October ’67 there are raw versions of classics likeStrange Brew, andTales Of Brave Ulysses, as well as great blues covers and a fascinating series of interviews with Clapton, these are essential live sets for any serious Cream collector. Limited edition splatter vinyl LP.

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The Smithereens  –  Covers

The Smithereens – Pat DiNizio, Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros and Dennis Diken dip deep into their archives to present Covers, a tribute to the songs and the artists that shaped their career. The album presents a heavy dose of British Invasion paying homage to the Kinks, the Beatles, the Who and T. Rex. The Smithereens were also influenced by a fair number of homegrown heroes too including Springsteen, Sinatra, Iggy Pop, The Beach Boys and more. The Smithereens are known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop. The group gained publicity when the single Blood and Roses from its first album was included on the soundtrack for Dangerously Close, and the music video got heavy rotation on MTV. During the course of their career the Smithereens racked up 2 platinum albums and 1 gold record.

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Jenny Hval  – The Long Sleep

The follow-up to Jenny Hval’s acclaimed 2016 album Blood Bitch is The Long Sleep, an adventurous new EP that sees the Norwegian multidisciplinary artist embracing an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning. In contrast to Hval’s more explicitly conceptual work, The Long Sleep foregrounds the act of composition itself, letting the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs. All of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context. Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Havard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with an ace new supporting cast of talented players from the jazz world — Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet. Hval calls them some of her favorite contemporary musicians, and their musical background helps to give the songs on The Long Sleep their intuitive, improvised feel.

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The Heads  –  RKT

Timely reissue of the first 3 releases The Heads put out on the Rocket label, from their first split 7” release (with Lilydamwhite) in 1998 to their much lauded Sessions 2 freakout 12” from 2002… compiled here in their remastered glory, the Heads were quite prolific back in the late 90s / early 00’s, and in between the Everybody Knows We Got Nowherealbum andUndersided album they released their jams and raw rehearsals via the burgeoning Rocket Label. Compiled here with extensive sleeve notes from Rocket founder Simon Healey, this limited 3LP (1000 copies) and 2CD (1000 copies) set captures the band at their most laconic and free… psychedelic sprawling morass or sound and aural distortion grooves akin drawing from their wide influences…also from simply plugging in and letting go. LP and CD both come with booklet

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Pink Floyd  –  BBC 1967 

Performing on 4 different dates in 1967, the year they released their first album, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, this is Pink Floyd at their early, psychedelic, and raw best. Their showing in May of that year, for the program The Look Of The Week, was probably the earliest live video recording of the group and includes amazing versions of Pow R. Toc H. and Astronomy Domine. Two more recordings for the program Top Gear, which showcased the underground hipster scene of London, and one for Tomorrow’s World round out this amazing collection of early Floyd, including great versions of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Flaming and Vegetable Man. Essential live recordings of Pink Floyd during their greatest era! Limited edition splatter vinyl LP.

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The follow-up to Jenny Hval’s acclaimed 2016 album Blood Bitch is The Long Sleep, an adventurous new EP that sees the Norwegian multidisciplinary artist embracing an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning. In contrast to Hval’s more explicitly conceptual work, The Long Sleep foregrounds the act of composition itself, letting the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs. All of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with an ace new supporting cast of talented players from the jazz world — Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet. Hval calls them some of her favorite contemporary musicians, and their musical background helps to give the songs on The Long Sleep their intuitive, improvised feel.

Releases May 25th, 2018

The follow-up to Jenny Hval’s acclaimed 2016 album Blood Bitch is The Long Sleep, an adventurous new EP that sees the Norwegian multidisciplinary artist embracing an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning. In contrast to Hval’s more explicitly conceptual work, The Long Sleep foregrounds the act of composition itself, letting the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs. All of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with an ace new supporting cast of talented players from the jazz world — Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet. Hval calls them some of her favorite contemporary musicians, and their musical background helps to give the songs on The Long Sleep their intuitive, improvised feel.

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Jenny Hval Shares Dreamy Single 'Spells'

Norwegian experimentalist Jenny Hval has unveiled a new song ‘Spells’, the captivating lead track from her upcoming EP collection The Long Sleep. Replete with pulsing electronic grooves, ‘Spells’ conjures a dreamy soundscape of heart-tugging pianos, playful saxophones and Hval’s weightless vocals. Wading into balearic dance-pop territory, the song’s cascading melodies cast listeners adrift in whirlpools of sound as the artist cryptically sings

“You are your own disco ball hovering above you, like a comforting reminder that not even you belong to you.” The intoxicating track follows Hval’s winning recent collaboration with fellow Norwegian artist Lindstrøm ‘Bungl (Like A Ghost)’, listen to ‘Spells’ .

From ‘The Long Sleep EP,’ out May 25th, 2018.

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Devotion is a stunning artistic about-face from revered Melbourne songwriter Laura Jean. Loved for her piercing, intimate, folk-based albums such as 2014’s Laura Jean and 2011’s A fool who’ll, Laura has worked with producer John Lee (Beaches, Lost Animal) to create an enveloping, deep pop album like nothing she has done before.
Laura’s last self-titled album, recorded in the UK with John Parish (Perfume Genius, Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey) and featuring Jenny Hval on backing vocals, was a critical smash in Australia, shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize and nominated for two Age Music Victoria Awards.
The album lead to Australian and New Zealand tours with Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams, plus shows with Julianna Barwick, Jessica Pratt and more.
But soon Laura found herself tinkering with a 90s Kawai keyboard, enjoying its built-in drum rhythms and moody synth sounds. Laura began a series of shows performing with nothing but the keyboard, as the idea for her next album grew and developed.
Devotion is an album about teenage obsession, coastal child- hood and vivid memory – universal themes filtered through Laura’s razor sharp lyrical focus. Initial influences for the record took in R’n’B, 80s adult contemporary pop and 70s disco, but the end result is transformed into something wholly other, full of depth, resonance and mystery.
Played entirely by Laura, John Lee and drummer Dave Williams (Augie March), “Devotion” is both contemporary and timeless. 

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About the album, Laura says: “Devotion is about how a lonely coastal childhood filters into a contemporary adult life built hundreds of miles away. I wrote this album for my mum, middle sister and myself as we were at that time – eccentric, romantically-unfulfilled teens and a stressed out single mum trying to have a love life. In those times we needed to hear songs that were loving and uplifting, about the reality of intimacy, longing, romantic risk and reward. The album is narrated by me in the present, a detached adult figure far away from home, but still driven by an inner fantasy world that is set on the beach where I grew up.”

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Initially, the music on Kelly Lee Owens’ self-titled debut comes across a certain way. Owens has already proven herself adept at chilly, claustrophobic electronic arrangements that nevertheless still move. But her record is a deeper and more paradoxical work than first impressions might suggest. Her background includes both childhood choirs and young adulthood stints in the indie-rock world, and you can hear the lingering influence of both in the music she makes now: choir vocals in the ghostly or cooing way she sings and produces vocals, a songwriter’s eye applied to the limitless boundaries of dance music. Kelly Lee Owens feels removed and hypnotizing as much as it feels intimate and emotive, a personal work abstracted and reconstructed to the point where listeners can find their own way in no matter which direction they’re coming from.

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<em>Blood Bitch</em> by Jenny Hval

Blood Bitch is all about vampires and period blood, but it’s also an innovative piece of art that extends beyond the realm of music. Jenny Hval has always honored the taboo in her work by giving voice to topics not easily traversed in the mainstream, and she does it with unconventional pop sensibilities and hooks. “Conceptual Romance” might be one of the finest examples, but there are moments throughout this album that illustrate Hval as an artist who’s constantly thinking about what comes next — an avant-gardist in the truest sense.

Jenny Hval has never shied away from the taboo. That much was clear on the opening track to 2013’s Innocence Is Kinky, where the Norwegian avant-pop artist utters “That night, I watched people fucking on my computer,” placing special emphasis on the verb. Hval keeps intellectualizing the body on the still atmospheric but considerably poppier album Blood Bitch, which throbs with references to menstrual blood, vampires and ‘70s horror films, subjects that repeatedly get woven together in a dreamy stream of consciousness.

The haunted, organ-laced “The Plague” absurdly instructs, “keep that birth under control!” after Hval washes the Pill down with a gulp of rosé. And album single “Female Vampire” breathlessly captures two women’s flows synching up (“When I’m near you become someone else… Here it comes”). Set against noise producer Lasse Marhaug and Hval’s pensive yet buoyant soundscape.

Jenny Hval for SPIN, 07/10/16

The avant-garde Norwegian singer Jenny Hval pulls off this feat with a rare grace, layering prose poems, both spoken and sung, over synths, pulsing house rhythms, and noise-rock fuzz.” –

Arguably the most consistently interesting artist of the last few years returns with an album about blood: specifically, menstrual blood, along with vampires, time travel and the rigors of touring: “This is my most fictional and most personal album. It’s also the first album where I’ve started reconnecting with the goth and metal scene I started out playing in many years ago, by remembering the drony qualities of Norwegian Black Metal. It’s an album of vampires, lunar cycles, sticky choruses, and the smell of warm leaves and winter,” says Hval,

Jenny Hval — Blood Bitch (September 30)

Image of Ultimate Painting - Dusk

Dusk is the third album from London-based duo Ultimate Painting, a ten song set that expands the group’s sound from their self-titled debut and their critically acclaimed sophomore effort Green Lanes, about whose tunes Pitchfork raved their “deceptively simple interplay slowly worms into your synapses…” Dusk heads along the same path, albeit in a slightly different direction, forging to new territory by heading inward. Most groups would kill to have one talented songwriter in their ranks, but Ultimate Painting are lucky enough to be comprised of two singular voices in Jack Cooper and James Hoare.

The pair’s distinctive songwriting styles began to blur a bit with Green Lanes, but on Dusk it ’s hard to tell where Cooper ends & Hoare begins. Their tunes weave in & out of each other like the duo’s respective six-strings, spiralling around each other in a laconic dance. Album opener ‘Bills’ dives head-first into a crystalline pool of jangle, furthering the duo’s rep as purveyors of the Verlaine/Lloyd legacy, but despite the evident influence of American guitar pop both past & present, the group’s recorded an album that feels decidedly English. Cooper’s abstract poeticism balanced perfectly alongside Hoare’s alluring & universal pop leanings. The group’s discovered a simple lushness in Dusk’s arrangements, sometimes only with subtle additions like Hoare’s recently acquired Wurlitzer piano that drives tunes like ‘Lead The Way’ or washes underneath others like ‘Monday Morning, Somewhere Central’. They’ve tapped into the subtle grace that infects the mood and emotions experienced at times like sunrise & dusk. Hopefullness. Resignation. Ennui. A breathing in. A breathing out.

Dusk was once again recorded to tape by guitarist James Hoare in his London flat. The casual setting allowed the sessions & songs to unfold naturally, with the two of them accompanied by recent live drummer Melissa Rigby, who drums on the entirety of Dusk. Her skills lend a rhythmic elasticity to songs like ‘A Portrait of Jason’ and ‘I Can’t Run Anymore’, with jazzy undertones that break from the band’s previously unadorned 4/4 leanings. Dusk feels different and cements the group’s presence in the modern world guitar pop, finding voice in the allure of quietude.

Image of Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch (Bonus Disc Edition)

Norwegian artist Jenny Hval announces the release of her new album, Blood Bitch via Sacred Bones. Co-produced with acumen noise producer Lasse Marhaug, Blood Bitch is in many respects a complete 180° from her last album, Apocalypse, Girl, in subject matter, execution and production. It is Hval’s most focused album, but the lens is filtered through a gaze which the viewer least expects.

In the words of Jenny Hval: “Blood Bitch is an investigation of blood. Blood that is shed naturally. The purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood: Menstruation. The white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers. Blood Bitch is also a fictitious story, fed by characters and images from horror and exploitation films of the ’70s. With that language, rather than smart, modern social commentary, I found I could tell a different story about myself and my own time: a poetic diary of modern transience and transcendence. There is a character in this story that is a vampire Orlando, traveling through time and space. But there is also a story here of a 35-year old artist stuck in a touring loop, and wearing a black wig. She is always up at night, jet lagged, playing late night shows – and by day she is quietly resting over an Arp Odyssey synthesizer while a black van drives her around Europe and America. So this is my most fictional and most personal album. It’s also the first album where I’ve started reconnecting with the goth and metal scene I started out playing in many years ago, by remembering the drony qualities of Norwegian Black Metal. It’s an album of vampires, lunar cycles, sticky choruses, and the smell of warm leaves and winter.”

Jenny Hval has developed her distinct take on intimate sound since the release of her debut album in 2006. For her last two solo albums, 2013’s Innocence Is Kinky and 2015’s Apocalypse, girl, Hval has received thoughtful and widespread international acclaim for her fascinating voice, singular delivery and markedly non-traditional arrangements which incorporate elements of poetry, prose writing,
performance art, and film. She eloquently brings to light issues of both male and female gaze.

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Atlanta’s Warehouse will release their sophomore album, Super Low, at the end of the month by way of the Brooklyn-based label Bayonet. This is welcome news, since we named Warehouse a Band To Watch last year based on the strength of their unconventionally catchy debut LP Tesseract. We’ve heard a few singles off of super LowReservoir and Simultaneous Contrasts and today we’re premiering the title track. While Warehouse was recording Super Low, Elaine Edenfield was coping with a personal loss, which affected her creative process tremendously. She describes feeling “Super Low” as follows:

Super Low is about near loss, loss, and fear of loss. The slowest song, leaning towards the album’s most heavy subconscious undertones, Super Low is the coming to a point of resolution, understanding, and maturation.

Though this song was born of trauma, it’s not an upsetting first listen. There’s so much life in “Super Low” that it’s hard to fathom this song is about death until you listen carefully to Edenfield’s lyrics. Still, her words are resilient: “I can’t destroy the things/ They keep me alive/ And I can’t destroy the things/ That lead to where you lie.”

Image of Public Access TV - Never Enough - Bonus Disc Edition

Having successfully nabbed the attention of NME early on, with the magazine singing their praises after uploading just one song to SoundCloud and declaring them “New York City’s hottest new band”, the group played their first live show at the legendary East Village bar Niagara, to a packed crowd before heading to England to hone their sound.
Touring under the fake band name “The iLL Herbs’ their run of UK shows was a huge success, culminating in their performance at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton.
The band have more recently played both the Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball Festivals. In addition, both NME, and Entertainment Weekly declared the group one of the “buzziest” bands at SXSW this past year. The band also played a sold-out NME show at Birthdays in London this February, as well as a number of support slots for The Strokes, Hinds, FIDLAR and Palma Violets.

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IAN SWEET’s indie pop packs the personality that [Hardly Art] is known for, spinning conventional rock band setups into output that is unconventional.”

“They’ve relocated across the USA, gone on three tours, eaten a lot of donuts, climbed rocks and worn crocs.”

“The unmistakable voice of singer Jillian Medford is a force that stands all on its own.”

“I have a way of loving too many things to take on just one shape,” Jilian Medford sings over and over again on the title track of the Brooklyn-based band IAN SWEET’s debut album, Shapeshifter, repeating it like a mantra. This is Medford’s thesis statement, a narrator to carry us through Shapeshifter, which is above all else a meditation on loneliness and displacement. It’s about losing love and your sense of self in the process, about grabbing at the little things in life that bring joy when nothing else is going according to plan. It’s also an ode to the bandmates, and the friends, that see you through. Ian Sweet started in 2014 with a string of text messages. Medford was a few days away from embarking on her first tour when the driver and drummer she recruited cancelled. Medford sent Ian Sweet drummer Tim Cheney  whom she barely knew a series of desperate messages, asking if he knew how to drum and whether or not he would be willing to take two weeks off of life to go on tour. Cheney responded soon after with a simple: “Yes.” Accompanied by Cheney and bassist Damien Scalise’s playful instrumentation, Shapeshifter becomes a celebratory purging, an album that finds humor in self-deprecation and vice.

Ian Sweets debut interrogates capital-e Existence through a candy-coated lens, their mathy precision scaffolding the chaos of Medford’s personal neurosis and turning those anxieties into something hook-laden and relatable. And though the narrative of Shapeshifter clings to an ex-lover, the yearning felt on this album isn’t directed at a particular individual so much as it’s turned inward. “You know the feeling. When you really like someone, you forget to do anything for yourself, you forget all of the things that gave you your shape,” Medford says. “The things that form your absolute.”

Image of Various Artists - Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia Presents PZYK VOL.2: Further Adventures In The PZYK Diaspora

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia are thrilled to announce the release of PZYK Vol.2 – a deluxe triple vinyl compilation celebrating the latest stars in the neo-psychedelic firmament.

The release comes one year on from the original, scene defining release PZYK Vol.1, which was named Piccadilly Records ‘Compilation Of The Year’. Featuring a mix of exclusive tracks, re-mixes, rarities and album cuts, the compilation spans and charts the global PZYK diaspora, with artists from around the world contributing to an international selection comprising 30 of the current movement’s key noisemakers.

Festival headliners SUPER FURRY ANIMALS are featured, as are The Horrors with a scintillating cut from TOM FURSE. The compilation again celebrates the internationalism of the neo-psych underground, with appearances from KIKAGAKU MOYO (Japan), DUNGEN (Sweden), PURE PHASE ENSEMBLE (Poland), ZOMBIE ZOMBIE (France), THE GANJAS (Chile) and 10,000 RUSSOS (Portugal), to name but a few.

All the artists featured on the release have performed at Liverpool Psych Fest.

Image of Bon Iver - 22, A Million

22, A Million is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self- understanding like a religion. And the inner-resolution of maybe never finding that understanding. The album’s 10 poly-fi recordings are a collection of sacred moments, love’s torment and salvation, contexts of intense memories, signs that you can pin meaning onto or disregard as coincidence. If Bon Iver, Bon Iver built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then 22, A Million is the letting go of that attachment to a place.

Image of Pixies - Head Carrier

Sophomore ‘post reunion’ album from the alt-rock four piece, their first new music since 2014’s Indie Cindy.

This 12 track record showcases the band’s unique mixture of surrealism, psychedelia, dissonance + surf rock.

Produced by Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Killing Joke) and recorded at London’s Rak Studios.

Paz Lenchantin, the band’s touring bassist since early 2014 (and previously a member of A Perfect Circle and Zwan amongst others) is now a permanent member of the band and her cool vocals can be heard on the album, most notably on ‘All I Think About Now’ on which she takes the lead.

Image of The Wytches - All Your Happy Life

The Wytches second album All Your Happy Life draws on a lifetime’s worth of new experiences shoehorned into two whirlwind years since their acclaimed debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’. There’s no difficult second album syndrome here. This black-hearted set is a combination of heavy comedown psychedelia and bilious and brilliant baroque ‘n’ roll. It’s portentous and scathing. Scabrous and bold. Utterly nihilistic.

Influences and inspiration is drawn from unexpected places – reading Tolstoy’s stories of dysfunctional relationships on the tour bus, digging the warm Hammond-and-acoustic tones of Elliot Smith, loads of underground metal band – but mainly it is informed by observing small town English life with new eyes, having traversed the planet on that first wave of success that followed their 2014 debut. It’s not so much the sound of the calm after the storm, but the howling vortex that follows in its wake.

All Your Happy Life marks a creative leap for The Wytches. Some might say it is the sound of a band finding their place in the world but really it is about world being allowed to enter the sphere of The Wytches – on their terms.

Image of Slaves - Take Control

Following on from the success of Slaves’ top 10 Mercury-nominated debut album ‘Are You Satisfied’, the duo mark their return with first single ‘Spit It Out’, an explosion of punk-rock fury that trails second album, ‘Take Control’. ‘Take Control’ was produced by one of the legends of early hip hop and New York punk, Mike D!!

CooleyImage of Drive-By Truckers - American Band

A statement from Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood: “We are beyond thrilled to announce the release date of our new album ‘American Band’.

“These are crazy times and we have made a record steeped in this moment of history that we’re all trying to live through. We’ve always considered ourselves a political band, even when that aspect seemed to be concealed by some type of narrative device i.e. dealing with issues of race by telling a story set in the time of George Wallace or class struggles by setting ‘Putting People On The Moon’ in the age of Reagan.

“This time out, there are no such diversions as these songs are mostly set front and center in the current political arena with songs dealing with our racial and cultural divisions, gun violence, mass shootings and political assholery. Once again, there is a nearly even split between the songs of  and myself, with both of us bringing in songs that seem to almost imply a conversation between us about our current place in time.

“‘American Band’ is a sort of rock and roll call to arms as well as a musical reset button for our band and the country we live in. Most of all, we look at it as the beginnings of some conversations that we, as a people very much need to begin having if we ever hope to break through the divisions that are threatening to tear us apart.

“Drive-By Truckers are celebrating our twentieth anniversary as a band in an election year where some people are trying to define what it is to be American. Definitions based on some outdated ideology of prejudice and fear. We are loudly proclaiming that those people don’t speak for us. America is and always has been a land of immigrants and ideals. Ideals that we have often fallen short of achieving, but it’s the striving that has given us whatever claims to greatness we have had. That’s what America means to us and “We’re an American Band”.”

Image of The Wands - Faces EP

Scandinavian psych-rock outfit The Wands pinned themselves at the forefront of the European psych stage long ago with their previous efforts but the new Faces EP is certain to keep them sitting there comfortably. Dining on an influence of Nuggets-era rock and roll and Eastern acid-rock this is psychedelic music as it should be, underpinned by a nostalgic yearning but wholly innovative and equally addictive. Their latest cut is a much more dynamic and vivid effort and it’s immediately evident that The Wands are back with a clearer vision than ever with their vibrant and infectious psych. Whilst the groovy fuzzed-out guitars, otherworldly solos and tremulous vocals still echo a tripped out ode to the 60s and 70s psychedelic forefathers, the cosmic swell of synths and organs propel it with a contemporary and ethereal vigour.

“Conceptual Romance” begins with the sound of a stuttering fan as Jenny Hval’s narrator describes a dream in which a partner has left her. Her voice has a familiar monotonous quality to it, and it catches when she describes her awakening: “I wake up high/ High on madness/ A sexual holding pattern/ Stuck in erotic self-oscillation/ This landmine of a heart.” This is why I love Hval:

It’s a self-evaluation of her behavior that, if you’ve ever found yourself plagued by feelings of mistrust toward someone you love, feels almost too close for comfort. And from there, Hval brings the partner back, lets them stew in her self-flagellation with a choral hook that is catchy in only the way Hval’s songs can be catchy: “Conceptual romance is on my mind/ I call it abstract romanticism/ Conceptual romance is you/ It’s you and I.”

This is a song for over-thinkers who wish they could be romantics. It’s a song for people who don’t know how to give up control long enough to feel any kind of romance beyond the textbook-definition. “Conceptual romance” is studied like physics, “real romance” is felt only when we’re at our most vulnerable. But getting to that point is an exercise in letting go, which can be an excruciating thing to do when you’re unaccustomed to it. “This blood bitch’s tale goes a bit like this/ I lose myself in the rituals of bad art and failure/ I want to give up/ But I can tell,” Hval’s voice quavers before she plucks reassurance from the ether. “My heartbreak is too sentimental for you.”