As summer turns to autumn, Getintothis’ writers pick the best albums of the last month for you.
Summer holidays are over-well over- and those long, long days of unbridled sunshine are but a distant memory. If we had any, that is.
Winter clothes are being dragged out of drawers and wardrobes, heating is being switched on once again and without a doubt the tabloids will be predicting the wettest/coldest/longest winter in living memory.
The shops will be filling up with Christmas cards, tinsel, trees and the rest.
So, as music fans, what are we supposed to do? Batten down the hatches and act as if we are extras in A Game of Thrones? Winter is coming etc. It’s all a bit grim.
But we needn’t worry because as we all know the last quarter if the year is usually the best time for new music.
The festival season is over, albums that we’ve been waiting for all year are due to be released and the touring schedule kicks off once again. There’ll be gigs galore out there for us.
Not only that but if you’re into lists (and let’s face, who’s not?) we’ll have all the Best of 2017 to look forward to. Always a time for an unhealthy and angry debate over a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.
And if you’re feeling Scrooge-like at all, just remember that big fat lad with the reindeer, beard and red kit usually can be relied upon to drop off some musical treats for you before the year is out.
All in all, the turning of summer into autumn and the looming threat of Christmas on the horizon, isn’t wholly a bad thing.
And in the spirit of giving you a very early Christmas present here are Getintothis’ Santa’s little helpers with the best albums of September for you. Ho Ho Ho.
EMA: Exile in the Outer Ring
Erika Anderson (better known as EMA) has made a habit of entering the dark vortex via alternative portals.
Her fourth album, Exile in the Outer Ring, continues the trend, this time focusing on the decay of the American Dream, isolationism and finding optimism from between the lines of “the system”.
Reading various interviews with EMA and you felt this album was coming. While her William Gibson inspired third album, The Future’s Void, poignantly critiqued social media and its insidious role in modern society, EMA becomes even more philosophical and nihilistic here, questioning the liberal elite status quote as well as finding solace on the fringes of society, or as she calls it, “the outer ring.”
Sonically, it’s not so far removed from her previous body of work, largely inspired by heavy industrial leanings (’33 Nihilistic and Female’), however EMA has always had the ability to floor her listeners when she eases the pace.
Gorgeous opener, 7 Years, is clearly the vanguard where the slower moments of Outer Ring are concerned.
Exile in the Outer Ring operates within the fine margins of beauty and brutality. EMA almost seems comfortable in the uncomfortable. Although the album illuminates the state of hopelessness we currently find ourselves in, oddly enough you still can’t help but feel a sense hope. Simon Kirk
Fred V & Grafix: Cinematic Party Music
With last year’s Oxygen album, Fred V & Grafix seemed to have invented Stadium Drum n Bass.
Full of anthemic choruses and pop friendly hooks, the duo’s ascension to Rudimental levels of success seemed like an easy bet. But for some reason, this was not to be the case and the World’s larger stages seem cruelly denied to them.
Cinematic Party Music, their new album, just over a year on from its predecessor, maintains the flair for catchy hooks, clever production and drum n bass atmospherics. So dexterous are they that they can turn their hand to balladry and dancefloor stormers without losing the flow or their signature sound. In fact, on San Francisco they somehow manage to do this on one song.
By toning down the anthemic quality of their songs, Fred V & Grafix have reconnected with their roots a little, and Cinematic Party Music features some more traditional junglist sounds.
As a result they sound stronger than ever while still maintaining a direct line to an enormous potential.
If there is any justice in the world of music-and we all know there isn’t- Fred V & Grafix would be one lucky break away from going overground in spectacular fashion.
Whether that break is their music being featured on an advert, a slot on Later with Jools Holland or a festival slot that puts them in front of a large up for it crowd (hopefully) remains to be seen, but it would be more than deserved.
On Cinematic Party Music, Fred V & Grafix do not put a foot wrong. Let’s hope a wider audience is able to see that this time. Banjo
The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas is a fan and that would have been good enough for us had we not seen INHEAVEN playing FestEVOL Gardens in the spring.
A really strong performance in the Invisible Wind Factory was a pleasure to see and the south London fourpiece seemed a perfect fit for the large, high stage in that massive space. They filled it effortlessly.
INHEAVEN’s eponymous debut album is probably best described as indie rock, if you need a pigeon hole. And we get the references: Nirvana (Treats), Jesus and Mary Chain (Stupid Things), Manic Street Preachers (Real Love), but as with any attempt to liken one band to another, the differences are as striking as the similarities.
These are (mostly) big sounding songs with powerful vocals from bassist Chloe Little and guitarist James Taylor, sometimes together, sometimes solo. This combination of styles works well and gives a depth to the sound of the material. An almost American feel at times, if that makes any sense.
Recent single Vultures makes a perfect centrepiece for the album with it’s thundering bassline and speeding guitars, Little and Taylor alternating vocal duties. A powerful rage – those wicked vultures, trying to kill me – of a track that would provide a perfect soundtrack to this dystopian world in which we find ourselves these days.
This is an unashamed rock album, with fire and feeling, as well as some more tender moments (Velvet). Definitely one to be played loud.
INHEAVEN are on the road in October. Do yourself a favour and go and see them. Peter Goodbody
The Irresistible Force: Kira Kira
Liquid Sound Design
Call it Music, the first track on this hour-long album takes its title from the sample that runs through the tune: John Cage defining music for the audience at home as simply “the production of sound”.
“Since in the piece you will hear I produce sound, then I would call it music”
Cage was instrumental in opening up our definition of music to include everything from silence to randomly generated noise. But what we get on Kira Kira is a finely tuned exploration of a narrowly defined musical niche, homing in with laser precision on the Ambient style developed in the 90’s.
The Irresistible Force is in fact Mixmaster Morris who has been a constant presence as the UK’s go-to ambient DJ since the early 90s, so he knows his onions.
Every delay, every tinkly piano, the beats, the harmony, every orgasmic whoosh reassures us of his deep, by now instinctive understanding of this style.
The references are clear – Steve Reich, Steve Hillage, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Dub reggae and fellow travellers The Orb and KLF, but never so explicit as to be direct homage, effortlessly ticking every box of a genre about to enter its third decade.
But the intervening 20 or so years have left their mark.
There is a sophistication and maturity here that was missing from the chill-out rooms of the 90s. No more dubious touristy samples of unpaid “ethnics” deep in their forests. The Japanese flavours that run throughout the album are not derived from samples picked up whilst on holiday, but from a genuine understanding of the harmony and pace of Japanese music and life.
No more easy breakbeats dredged from a sample CD and lazily looped ad nauseam, these beats are composed and they develop. Arrangements have moved on too, creating a narrative – a sense of process.
Suikinkutsu, named after a Japanese pot designed to highlight the sound of dripping water, develops in episodes ending somewhere quite different from where it began. The vocal samples are more considered and erudite, Sun Ra himself making an appearance on the final climactic track Space Elevator.
The production has moved on too – these are no bedroom mixes with an Atari and a sampler. Producer Luke Fitzpatrick, under the watchful ear of Youth in his studio down in southern Spain, has given the tunes the sparkle, depth and width that only a full-on professional studio can deliver.
Perhaps the most telling track is Laniakea, named after the enormous cluster of galaxies which is our home in the universe, no less. The Mellotron-esque strings and piano hark back to 60s psychedelia; Lennon and McCartney. The vocal sample is our own beloved Oliver Postgate, a voice central in childhood memories for the generation that grew up glued to the box in the 60s and 70s, bathing us in nostalgic and sentimental warmth worthy of Jose Padilla, the Balearic star in the Chill out heavens.
The track fades on the sound of a chiming clock, a gentle reminder that time has passed, that the E’d up kids in the chill out room are now mums and dads and their music has grown up with them.
Kira Kira is a milestone, softly redefining ambient for perhaps another 20 years. Jono Podmore
This is a big deal.
Anything LCD Soundsystem does is a big deal, but here we have a new album from a band, the death of which was announced six years ago, although, true, they said last year they were back and this album hasn’t exactly come as a surprise.
So, the phoenix has risen, and then some. The last recorded output of any substance from the band was the long goodbye (lcd soundsystem live at madison square garden) – a near 4 hour unedited recording of the behemoth of the gig, said at the time, to have been their swansong.
Since then there have been rumours and counter-rumours, but Murphy & Co did indeed play some gigs in 2016, as well as cancelling some. In January 2016 the intent was announced of a new LCD Soundsystem album later that year, but for whatever reason it didn’t happen.
But now it has landed (does a phoenix land?) and it’s a belter.
Although, to be honest, it’s not massively different from their previous output. Murphy’s voice is still there at the front and the relentless rhythms that make up the band’s distinctive DNA will keep fans happy enough.
There’s no barnstormer track a là Daft Punk Is Playing at My House and at times we’re reminded of John Lydon’s Public Image Limited (how do you sleep?), which is no bad thing. But as a coherent body of work this album hits the sweet spot.
Arguably, tonite is the most Creamfields friendly track, but there are other gems and nods towards Murphy’s brand of indie style dance.
Oddly, the track call the police seems to borrow a motif from the Icicle Works’ Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly), which is no call out (the similarities are there, but this is no rip off), and is a recognition of the way LCD Soundsystem manage to walk a peculiarly difficult line between outright dance music and indie rock with seemingly effortless ease. It’s a clever trick.
Title track american dream – “The revolution was here that would set you free from those bourgeoisie …” is a slower, more measured piece. Probably not a highlight, but it feels like Murphy is shouting at the walls and anyone else who will listen. But it’s unlikely to hit the target, other than the already converted.
Album closer black screen is a 12-minute piece of joy. Understated drums, synth led, dreamy pianos and a statement of intent. It never gets up to the pace of the other tracks on the album, but it’s the perfect chill out room and is a fitting end to the journey so far.
We can’t help speculating about the lack of capitalization of the name of the album and all of the song titles. It seems like there’s another message here. We don’t know what it is. But we can guess.
This is a masterpiece from a man who knows how to do music. Peter Goodbody
War On Drugs: A Deeper Understanding
Atlantic / Secretly Canadian
The year’s 2082, it’s 9pm and more than 642million people are glued to Prime Fudge TV.
Helen Worth aka Gail Platt is stood shaking with acute glandular fever having performed a heroic version of Dusty Springfield‘s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
Next to her is 24-year-old, Adam Granduciel. Dressed head to toe in double denim. The underdog.
The man who’s survived eviction four weeks running. His matted hair glued to his face like a bearded collie that’s been sexually assaulted in a car wash. He dribbles having just performed *the one*.
It’s the moment all 642 million have been waiting for. It’s the very reason why Andi Peters put him through in judges’ houses. Now, in front of Anne Widdecome, Sooty, Sharon Stone and Rick Flair he’s done it all over again.
He hit the notes. He delivered the killer solo. He smashed the key change during the ‘there’s no love‘ section. He nailed it.
Presenter Matthew Kelly, pulling his trousers pants which have inadvertently wedged between his arse cheeks into position, reveals the winner…
“Taking home, the £1million pounds and record deal, is….
*Fast forward 15 years*
Granduciel is sat in his garage. Picking the rind from some out-of-date bacon from his teeth…
“That Bryan fucking Adams. On 6 Music again. It’s the fucking third time today. House Arrest. I’ll give you House Arrest. It could have been me. I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody…” Peter Guy
Brokenchord: Endless Transmission
It’s difficult to define the sound of Brokenchord as they seem to merge 808 State-style ambience and My Bloody Valentine guitar heavy clashing in a late eighties /early nineties revivalist sound.
This is not to be derogatory, as they seem to pull off this with well-structured and tempered songs.
They open with Door Shutter – an instrumental track that moves between its uplifting beats and layering of mono synth pad sounds, which feels more like an albums end than a beginning.
However, it soon convulses into When You Sleep with repeating patterns and otherworldly vocals filtered out and move into distorted guitars then quickly leaps to Kool Air. creating hypnotic loops of sound and guitar as it proceeds, and making the listener feel lost in the song.
Orcha drops next sounding more like early Ninja Tunes as this genre twisting album pushes its boundaries even further, falling into “endless” with its jangly guitar frothing on top. Oscar’s Arp is more genre-cutting and reshaping as it becomes its own thing, all is familiar and all is new here.
Pounding along it is a comfortable listen and is only interrupted with a sudden ending and what seems like a clashing of styles that confound and crumble into one another with use of vocal samples and field recording to fuse the songs together.
Finally Parabola brings all their influences together, with it offbeat rhythm and surf-style guitar, adding to its unfamiliar/familiarity.
Although this album is not ground-breaking, it has definite greatness inside and works for fans of Oscillation or HigamosHogamos. A good solid album for a band that have dared to form a new language with genres we all know.
This could be the beginning of a new favourite band. Guy Nolan
Trouble In Mind
Released on September 22 2017 (the day the band played Liverpool PZYK 2017), OMNI’s 2nd album release, Multi-task is a thoroughly pleasant lo-fi noise, most of which laments the experiences and anxieties of typical lads in their early twenties.
The alt-rock band, from Atlanta Georgia in the USA, have been touring the UK in recent weeks, and have invited plenty of praise along the way.
From the first few seconds of Track 1, Side 1, Southbound Station, OMNI band members: guitarist, Frankie Broyles (ex-Deerhunter), singer-bassist, Philip Frobos and drummer, Doug Bleichner, effortlessly manage to do what most are unable to and take us on a multi-task journey of bounding, bouncing bass runs, Postcard Records-style riff-strums and prominent, quirky vocals; all locked in by a precise, percussive pulse.
The sound of Multi-task can be described as a wiry, prickly mix of Devo, Talking Heads and Lena Lovich and thus locates itself very much in an early-80s post-punk genre.
There is an album full of high-points on Multi-task and OMNI manage to avoid the ‘difficult 2nd album syndrome’ with consummate ease. A listen to Multi-task goes highly recommended. Mark Rowley
Hannah Peel: Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia
My Own Pleasure
I’ve been listening to this album almost to the exclusion of anything else this last month.
It’s one of those records.
The sort of record that when you pick something else and listen to a few tracks- or even just one track or even a few minutes of one track- you find yourself thinking, ‘What am I doing listening to this? I could be listening to Hannah Peel. I should be listening to Journey to Cassiopeia.’
This is a record that demands to be played over and over again. On repeat.
It’s a record that mesmerises and makes you wonder where on earth did all that come from? How can anyone, how can any one person make something so…well, nigh on perfect?
Because that’s what Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia is.
I guess we knew that Hannah Peel could make a great record. After all, her previous album, 2016’s Awake, But Always Dreaming which documented her grandmother’s struggle with dementia was a brave and visionary personal tale, yet one which was oddly uplifting. Her work as part of The Magnetic North, and in particular their The Prospect of Skelmersdale album rightly made Getintothis’ Best of 2016 list.
Yet with this record, she seems to have taken a massive leap forward.
Where those two albums beautifully dealt with things on a small and limited stage (the inner mind and the psychogeography of a new town), Journey to Cassiopeia looks heavenwards, across the boundless dust of space and to a constellation many light years away.
It’s the (real or imagined) journey of an 80-year old woman from Barnsley, a stargazer who has always dreamed of travelling to Cassiopeia.
Hannah Peel has said that the journey may not actually have happened and it might simply have taken place in the imagination of her protagonist. That doesn’t matter. This album takes us, the listener, on that trip.
She’s managed to skilfully meld electronics, analog synths and a full brass band (Tubular Brass) to produce seven tracks that demand to be heard.
From the opener, Goodbye Earth, which sets it all up perfectly, through Sunshine Through Dusty Nebula with plaintive brass leading into Deep Space Cluster hopping and dancing and picking your way through somewhere distant, she’s managed to make the disparate elements of electronic and brass work so well.
It all ends with The Planet of Passed Souls. This is a treated recording of Peel’s grandfather, singing as a choirboy in Manchester Cathedral from many years ago. Overlaid with Mahlerian chords, she’s managed to retain the dusty scratches of an old 78.
We hear those notes and that voice echoing down the years. It gently fades away and leaves us spellbound. Hannah Peel has made something intensely personal and shared it with us and isn’t that what art and the creative process should all be about?
It’s a remarkable record. I’m off to listen to it (yet) again. Rick Leach
Lee Ranaldo: Electric Trim
Lee Ranaldo has been free for quite some time, with Electric Trim moving away from the brand of noise he was so often associated with, replaced by the Grateful Dead-styled sounds he’s always clearly loved just that little bit more. Whilst Thurston and Kim keep to the Sonic Youth feedback machine, Lee is free doing whatever he pleases.
It’s a little calmer with Lee, there’s a little more poetry with Lee, you can sing along with Lee.
But then again, there is also a jolly old song about tearing off your skin to let your skeleton breathe, to keep it entertained. So don’t get too comfy in Lee‘s more conventional sounding word, for it only sounds more conventional when you talk about it in comparison to his Sonic Youth-filled past..
When you hear spoken word, Moroccan Mountain drones, and waves of psychedelia all mixed together, you might end up lost, but you certainly won’t end up bored. Joe Woodhouse
Re-TROS: Before the Applause
There is nothing that quite prepares you for this album. Not even the gentle intro track, Hum, which is little more than that for a couple of minutes. Then Hailing Drums kicks in and you realise this is something very different, special even.
Vehement, urgent synths and electronic drums grab the attention straight away and don’t let up for the next hour or so for which this album will have you hooked. It’s dark, moody, sinister stuff. And, although electronic based, this is not Cream fare.
It’s The Shamen and Therapy? rolled up into an uneasily digestible package.
Re-TROS have been around for a while (2003), but we’re not surprised if you haven’t heard of them.
Based in Beijing they’re a trio of post punk electronic psychonauts who have clearly listened to a wide range of Joy Division, LCD Soundsystem, Pere Ubu type bands then deconstructed them and re-packaged the best bits into a quite distinct sound.
Then along comes 8+2+8 I.
There are no instruments on this track. Just clapping, rhythmic vocals and harmonies. It’s a remarkable thing that shouldn’t work and maybe on paper (screen) it doesn’t. But you need to hear this. It will have you rooted to the spot as the looped claps and vocals spin around your head creating an ever more complicated sound.
It’s a warm up to the insanity of 8+2+8 II – perhaps the mainstay of the album. Here the clapping rhythm is repeated but with drums and bass, overlaid by synth where the harmonies were before. And for the next 10 minutes, the band does the same trick they did with the sparse hand claps and vocal motifs, save this time we’re building up to a massive climax.
It’s your fave grungy dive late night club – the one with sticky floors and sweat pouring down the walls. Deutsche American Freundschaft are in the house, but frankly, they can’t compete with the new pretenders.
And we’ve still got 25 minutes to go. At Mos Phere must surely be a nod towards New Order’s Blue Monday. The rhythm and the structure are similar, but also different enough there is no doubt this is Re-TROS doing their own thing. It’s a dreamy, invigorating 12- minute Daft Punk-esque delight.
Maybe the surprise track is the last one – Sounds for Celebration. Here’s Re-TROS doing a wicked impression of Leonard Cohen – “Waste no tears. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking under the moon. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a son of a bitch”. As the marching drums fade out you know you’ve listened to something special.
An album to be revered, favoured, savoured and most of all, played often. Peter Goodbody
Septicflesh: Codex Omega
Season of Mist
Well, what is there to say that hasn’t already been said elsewhere?
To reiterate; Codex Omega is an utterly devastating masterpiece of symphonic (yes, with a real orchestra) death metal. Septicflesh, hailing from Greece, have been around since the early 90s with Codex Omega marking their tenth album, following 2014’s Titan.
When we thought the band had reached their pinnacle with Titan, an album that pushed the very limits of what we thought they were capable of, they have gone above and beyond here, punching through the proverbial ceiling to deliver some of the most inspiring, and downright evil compositions we have ever heard.
The guitar tones cut like a knife through the mix, the drums are crystal clear, the orchestrations never feel forced or shoehorned in, and the vocals sit proudly atop. At no point does it overwhelm you or feel like it’s “too much” for your ears, allowing you to truly appreciate everything the band (and orchestra) have worked so hard for you to hear.
Septicflesh have not only surpassed any and all expectations here, they have rewritten the blueprint and set a new grandiose standard for what symphonic death metal should sound like, anything less than this just won’t cut it from here on out, sublime. Mark Davies
Dead Rider: Crew Licks
Drag City Records
Dead Rider has moved further into the realms of experimental funk/jazz and whatever sound or music style you can hang on this their fourth album.
From the opening track Grand Mall Blue you are in a psychotropic blaring between Floyd-esque guitar sounds and Butthole Surfer-quasi sporadic rhythms. It ungulates and passes into Ramble On Rose – a beautifully structured melody with its spasmodic signature beats and funk basslines shifting into an abyss of synth waves that collapse back into the song
The Ideal starts with its strange marker squeaks and blues guitar to be suddenly replaced with steel drum sounds and more off-kilter drum sounds. This is a true journey in style layering, giving the listener a treat of a song, which breaks apart into The Floating Dagger” jumping along in now a familiar and satisfying way.
We’re also treated to Bad Humours with fairground samples cutting and vocal harmonies bringing the funk and is it heavy. Like a bastardised Funkadelic-come-Beefheart merging, this track is from Outer Space and will be the one song that convinces you that Dead Rider are a band that you’ll need in your life.
So, do you need this album? Absolutely you do. Totally essential listening. Guy Nolan