Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Recommended Albums: January 2013

New year, new format. This time I'm going to do a monthly feature of the new records I've recently enjoyed. No scores, no lists, only what I'm liking at this precise moment be it one album or ten. These are the ones for January:

Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory - Elements of Light
A 45 minute piece of ambient techno led with a multitude array of bells. It's a direction that works well for the German producer and Norwegian bell players alike, and it's not like you're going to find this kind of thing anywhere else.

Villagers - {Awayland} 
Conor O'Brien's debut album as Villagers, Becoming A Jackal earned him both an Ivor Novello and a Mercury nomination. His second, {Awayland}, continues to showcase Conor's niche songwriting, this time with a welcomely expanded instrumental pallette.

Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
If you can put aside a few sleepy lyrics and melodies, and aren't put off by a band who wear their influences firmly on their sleeve, Foxygen ought to make you feel right at home. Their new album does a better job at coercing out those musical ideas than last year's Take The Kids Off Broadway, and there's a good chance that Wes Anderson will be back for them in the future.

Dutch Uncles - Out Of Touch in the Wild
There are a lot of bands being tossed off as art pop these days, but Manchester's Dutch Uncles truly possess the mettle. Out Of Touch is the band's third, and is the kind of colourful, catchy, time signature-hopping stuff you've doubtless heard attepmted elsewhere, but with few of the downsides.

Serafina Steer - The Moths Are Real
A charming and wonderfully varied record of English folk, Serafina Steer's fragile vocals, witty storytelling and masterful harp arangements give The Moths Are Real genuine character and originality. Produced by Jarvis Cocker there's a sense of adventure to every song that adds up to an intelligent, fully formed record.

Darkstar - News From Nowhere
It's not out until next month but the new Darkstar album caught my attention for its innovative range of electronic sounds and textures. It's great to hear a band develop so far into their own style, as News From Nowhere is quite different to their earlier Hyperdub work, and there are a few good songs on there too, so help yourself to a stream.

Four Tet - 0181 / Oneohtrix Point Never - The Fall Into Time
Both of these are albums of unreleased material from highly renowned elctronic producers. Four Tet's 0181 (below) collects some of his early material from 1997-2001, and is available for free download, whereas OPN's The Fall Into Time is a part of his recent 5LP reissue of Rifts that's available for streaming at The Wire. Both are worthwhile for fans of any form of electronic music.

Young Fathers - Tape One
I've already mentioned this as it originally came out through Bandcamp last year, but Young Fathers' Tape One has this month been reissued on Anticon, and it's defenitely worthy of pointing out again. Some of the most unique UK hip-hop of the last few years, and one to watch.

A selection of tracks from some of these albums will feature in my next Culture Shock mix, due out in a couple of days. There were certainly some albums I missed this month, so if you know of any why not leave a comment? Next month, expect albums from the likes of Iceage, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Atoms For Peace, Veronica Falls and others.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Single of the Week: Iceage - "Ecstasy"

Copenhagen's underground is home to one of the more interesting punk scenes of today. Iceage, who stand amongst the finest of Danish exports thankfully weren't satisfied with releasing only one album, 2011's 24-minute New Brigade, and the current impression of next month's sequel You're Nothing is that they may have raised the bar yet again. "Ecstasy" opens the set as one of Iceage's noisiest and most ferocious tracks so far, and of course the devil is in the details. Elias Bender Ronnefelt's lead vocal presence is positively chilling, not unlike that of a certain Ian MacKaye; and working out the song's message can also lead to some interesting conclusions. The ecstasy of pressure, or the pressure of ecstasy? It sounds like it could be either, or both.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Single of the Week: Golden Teacher - "Dante And Pilgrim"

Golden Teacher are a collaboration between disparate Glasgow groups Ultimate Thrush and Silk Cut, and "Dante And Pilgrim" is everything you'd want a dance track from a group named after a mushroom to sound like. A touched-up live recording that smacks of Arthur Russell, low slung with a bubbly throbbing reminiscent of Matthew Dear's Audion work; the track's most obvious benefit is its manic French vocals. Imagine if Jacques Brel had fronted Einst├╝rzende Neubauten and took a turn for Moroder italo-pop. That's the kind of unique track we're dealing with here.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Single of the Week: Pete Swanson - "Life Ends at 30"

After leaving seminal noise duo Yellow Swans, Pete Swanson has spent the last few years creating his own adventures in high distortion in the techno-tinged project under his own name. And although his solo output so far has been heavy in that department, the broken static textures of "Life Ends at 30", the 13-minute closing track to his upcoming Punk Authority EP looks to have overtaken his other works' previous nastiness. It's the ever-expanding rhythm section underpinning the track that keeps it grounded in the listener's ear; while the tone of the piece is exhillerating, it's these interlocking rhythms that are the real interest here. Be sure to adjust your headphones: 2013 is looking to be very menacing indeed.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

10 albums that may get released in 2013... and 10 that (almost) certainly will

Time to take a look towards the year ahead, in a not-so-grounded (i.e. mostly uncomfirmed), followed by a reasonably sound list of albums that may come to grace our ears in 2013. There are more comprehensive lists of this type elsewhere on the web - here, here and of course my own Upcoming Releases list - but this is a more compact, personal take of what I hope will turn out to be pretty great.

10 possible artists to release albums this year

Jai Paul
Jai Paul may have only put out two tracks officially so far, but the anticipation for new material bearing his name is huge. Jai clearly cares about the quality of what he puts out. Could 2013 be the year it arives in an album-sized package?

Kanye West
Many believe Kanye's last solo album, 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to be his best yet. Let's hope becoming a father or the rumoured Cruel Winter compilation don't prevent him from releasing another this year.

Black Hippy
OK, hear me out on this one. Both ScHoolBoy Q and Ab-Soul are working on upcoming projects, and Kendrick is taking a break after good kid, m.A.A.d city, but a whole album of the Black Hippy crew riding on the success of K.Dot makes so much sense from a marketing perspective, and I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering how it'd turn out.

Slint's last album was the legendary Spiderland, released back in 1991. However the band reunited a few years back, and guitarist David Pajo hints there may be more to come. If Swans and Godspeed have managed successful comebacks recently, why not?

Feel It Break was an excellent debut album, no doubt about that. No word on Austra's follow-up yet but a new song last year called "Painful Like" offers a tantilising new direction.

Angus Andrew has mentioned on more than one occasion that there are a number of outtakes from the WIXIW sessions that Liars are unsure what to do with. Although a Amnesiac style sequel seems a little too much like hero-worship, it would be great to hear these leftovers in some way. Maybe an EP or a live album?

Killer Mike and El-P
Likewise, El-P has expressed interest in working on an EP with Killer Mike, after the wildly enjoyable R.A.P. Music and Cancer For Cure albums. It would be great to hear the two MC's trading off lines and verses again.

Despot seems to be the butt of the Def Jux family's joke, having never released an album since his 2004 signing. But apparently he has recorded an album produced entirely by indie band Ratatat, and what I've heard of it has been pretty sweet.

Jay Electronica
Not sure which is more likely, Despot's album, Dr. Dre's Detox, or Jay Electronica's Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn). Still last year we got a tracklist, and promise of a Chris Brown-featured single, so something has to happen soon, right?

My Bloody Valentine
Technically this ought to be in the other list, but anyone can be forgiven when it comes to this particular release, if it can be legitimatly caled that. Apparently Kevin Shields has finished mastering the new My Bloody Valentine album he's been working on for 21 years, and supposedly it's going to be up on the MBV website soon. Watch this space, however long it may be.

10 albums we will (probably) see this year

The Bug - Angels & Devils
Kevin Martin has alrerady teamed up with Daddy Freddy, Inga Copeland, Miss Red (below) and Warrior Queen for his Acid Ragga 7" series, which will culminate in Angels & Devils, the follow-up to 2008 incredible London Zoo. Collaborations with Death Grips, Gonjasufi, Grouper, JK Flesh, Flowdan and the Spaceape are also promised.

Danny Brown - Old
Danny Brown's sequel to XXX also looks heavy on the features. In his case it's MC's A$AP Rocky, ScHoolBoy Q, Ab-Soul and Kitty Pryde, indie duo Purity Ring, and producers SKYWLKR, Paul White, Darq E Freaker, Oh No and Rustie.
The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
Expected 8th April via Mute
Not much is known about the new Knife album save for this video, and that their last, the lauded Silent Shout was released way back in 2006.

Phoenix - TBC
Expected April
Not much to report on this one yet either. It ought to be solid though.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
Expected 18th February via Mute
The ever-busy Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are never ones to disappoint. "We No Who U R" is a lovely lead single, and there's also one of those awesome studio recording montage videos. More of these please.

The Flaming Lips - The Terror

The world ought to be sick of Wayne Coyne and co's shenannigans (i.e. cuntish behaviour) by now, but as long as they keep releasing strong material there will always be an audience for them. With Steven Drozd having recently been released from hospital after battling with his drug addiction, there should hopefully be a new dynamic brought to The Terror.

You're right, Lauren. I can't get enough.

Factory Floor - TBC
Expected May via DFA
British live circuit mainstay and recipients of the first Single of the Week of this year, Factory Floor's album now has an (approximate) release date. Let's hope they stick to it.

Iceage - You're Nothing
Expected 19th February via Matador
If this album is anything like New Brigade, etc.

Arcade Fire - TBC / Yeah Yeah Yeahs - TBC
Expected late 2013 (AF) / Spring (YYY)
Lumped together because James Murphy is rumoured to be involved in both projects. Even if he isn't (and he won't be in both), more indie rock critic bait with a dance-ier direction is always worth a listen.

Keep your eyes on the Upcoming Releases page for regular updates.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Single of the Week: Factory Floor - "Fall Back"

Factory Floor have been taking their time when it comes to the issue of their debut album, releasing sporadically over the last few years and developing both their musical interplay as a band and their ferocious post-industrial sound on the stage (see Transverse, last year's live album collab between Factory Floor member Nik Colk Void and Throbbing Gristle's Chris & Cosey as Carter Tutti Void). But news of that as-of-yet untitled debut is on the way has been followed by its first single. "Fall Back" is a case of showing what the Londeners do best: 8 and a half minutes of unresolved, intensifying construction complete with pummeling electronic drums, relentless monotone bleeps and Void's sliced, ghostly vocals. "Did you feel like you were going to fall back?" "Did you feel like you were going to fall underground?" Provided the album makes the mark, this year should see great things for Factory Floor; and even if it doesn't, at least they have another quality single in the bag.