September may be the last dying days of summer but fear not because Getintothis’ staffers have rounded up a veritable feast of albums for you to get your ears around this month.
Another month down. Albums aside and it’s been one to forget, as we say goodbye to two of the most prolific songsmiths of their generation, who sadly left this world.
Firstly, David Berman who took his own life, not before leaving us with one of his most important works with the eponymous debut as Purple Mountains.
Following Berman‘s death, more sad news followed, this time of Neal Casal‘s passing, which filtered through last week. It makes one wonder. What the fuck is going on in this world? Too many good people are leaving it and, all told, the truth of the matter is that things aren’t fair.
They never have been and that won’t change.
While death is something that makes us all reflect and realise just how fragile this life truly is, another aspect of it is, sadly, that things go on, as trite and disingenuous as that sounds.
Artists like Berman and Casal wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, I’m sure. Music is power and while it doesn’t always get one through the tough times it certainly helps in more ways than many could imagine.
This includes new music, and the albums keep churning. As each Friday in August hit, it was met with quite different scenarios, not least the arrival of two acts which dominated proceedings in the late ’90s/early ’00s.
Yes, after dangling carrots and taking the piss out of their fiercely fervent followers for the last ten years with sonic teases and cryptic tweets, Tool finally decided to get off their arse and release a new album.
Entitled Fear Inoculum (not to be mistaken with Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy), the reception has been, well… predictable. For the most part, at least.
A swathe of publications who ordinarily would have panned Tool have appeared quite taken aback with Fear Inoculum and while still very fresh to ears (it was only released last Friday), the early signs are that Tool‘s latest effort may have been worth the wait.
Watch this space for next month’s Albums Club.
Speaking of returns to form, Slipknot have also released new music. No, you haven’t jumped inside a time capsule, we are still very much in 2019 (shall we talk proroguing? Okay, perhaps not…)
We won’t reveal too much on We Are Not Your Kind because you’ll be able to read all about it in about two minutes. Some may shake their heads about these two acts, merely back as some nostalgic trip which stirs up the emotions for those who grew up in this era of music.
Whether that’s the case or not, it’s refreshing to be engaging in discourse about music, which seems to be receding day after day with other matters taking precedence (shall we talk about proroguing yet? Guess not…)
Yes, there’s plenty of platforms to discuss the latest shitshow in British politics, but try and view Albums Club as a place to seek refuge for a half an hour of your day. Indulge in something new, like these albums that have been chosen by Getintothis staffers. Remember, there’s always life changing new music out there for those willing to go down the rabbit hole. – Simon Kirk
Album of the Month
Murder Capital: When I Have Fears
Human Season Records
There’s a whole raft of very decent bands heading over from Ireland at the moment who are, we hate to pun ‘gonna be big’. Dublin’s The Murder Capital are, at the moment in the same whisper as Fontaine’s DC, Just Mustard, Thumper and Inhaler.
But they’re by no means all the same in sound. We first saw The Murder Capital on a very cold and icy day in January of this year, not knowing what the band were about.
They instantly resonated, coming on to sirens blaring and the fifteen or so people in the audience didn’t know what hit them. Live, their sound is big, it’s captivating and it stays with you.
We therefore eagerly looked forward to their debut When I Have Fears. Even though we’d discovered them in January, by August there were still only a couple of songs on Spotify to listen to so an air of mystery remained.
And we weren’t disappointed.
The result has been just as huge as the hype surrounding Fontaine’s DC’s Dogrel. But this isn’t about all these Irish bands sounding the same. The Murder Capital have made something much more dark, harrowing and passionate. More Is Less begins like Sonic Youth’s Tom Violence. Not a bad thing indeed.
A similarly distorted guitar, dripping with sadness and chilling. Pounding the lyrics ‘more more more, more is less’ give vibes like a protest song but with more amped up romance. Always the song that stood out in live shows, Green and Blue makes an apocalyptic sound of romantic devastation and destruction with Interpol style guitars bass and drums, but darker and more post-punk -if you can imagine that.
It’s as if everything is going on around us but somehow it’ll all be ok. The haunting ‘I failed you’ makes us imagine a camera drawing out of an unlit room as someone is left alone and devastated in the darkness. It all builds up to Slowdance I and Slowdance II. The meat of the album and a duo of songs to get completely lost in. In a live setting these two songs play as one single entity; one half with lyrics (Slowdance I) and one
half instrumental (Slowdance II).
Slowdance II is where it really kicks in. Dark and dreamy, this is the fulcrum where you immerse yourself in layers of sound. The most melancholic memory of romantic fuzz. It’s dramatic and hazy and seductive and epic and takes your breath away. You wonder how on earth they can top it.
Feeling Fades is a track that’s been available to listen to since we first discovered them. It ends with a dry shouted la la la la la la la la la and seems to poke fun at the song as it disintegrates, like light falling into a black star. Final track Love Love Love is already a personal favourite. Dark and moody, lurking and devastating, alarms sirens, cinematic and lush. ‘In the rain the romance lay, maybe in the rain, the romance will say goodbye’
When I Have Fears is such a raw record, both emotionally and sonically that we don’t want to be controversial or opinionated or seen as rooting for the underdog but it’s just knocked Dogrel from our Album of the Year spot. It really is that good. – Lucy MacLachlan
If the old adage, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, belongs to one band right now, it’s !!! aka Chk Chk Chk.
The Sacramento outfit, formed in the late 90’s, have honed their punk dance schtick to delightful effect on their eighth studio album, Wallop. For those lucky enough to have seen them last summer at Hangar 34 you would have been introduced to the musical seeds which formed Wallop, sprouted somewhat on that UK tour.
Alongside noughties contemporaries, The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, Chk Chk Chk have a way of producing a groove orientated, post-punk sound which never tires. All fourteen tracks on Wallop are tightly produced, yet have a looseness and enjoyably manic touch to them all.
The opener, Let It Change U, kicks things off with founder and frontman, Nic Offer, quizzing the listener… ”why won’t you let the rhythm change you”, as if to ask those who are usually averse to letting go, to just let their hair down for once.
Disco big-beats and juicy bass hooks abound, with a smattering of microsampling on tracks such as Couldn’t Have Known. Although the album revels in a hedonistic vibe at times, lyrically it makes pointed barbs to those who follow the crowd and never think for themselves.
This is apparent on Off The Grid, in which Meah Price dovetails with Offer, giving a cutting view of certain people….”asinine, asinine, where they go, you follow…”. Recent single, Serbia Drums, using fluttering synths over an incessant drum loop, bemoans the current state of world affairs, “infidels, liars and believers, know-it-alls, inguenes and dreamers…”.
My Fault is the acid track Prince may well have made, and Slow Motion almost veers into trip-hop towards its denouement. Chk Chk Chk have produced an album which almost floats on a sea of differing lyrical moods and exuberant musical styles, and added together forms such an uplifting experience.
Long may they tread their killer dance-punk path and joyful sense of adventure. – Mark Flannery
A.A. Bondy: Enderness
Alabama native, Auguste Arthur Bondy (better known to us as A.A. Bondy), returns to music after an eight-year absence since his last long-player, the underrated Believe. A lot has transpired in eight years, particularly for someone like Bondy, seemingly a soul not best suited to modern times.
The nature of our fast-paced existence is used as fuel for Bondy to burn on Enderness, with capitalism, nationalism and internet fame firmly subjects in his ire. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find an album in 2019 that encapsulates existential dread as much as Enderness does and that’s not even mentioning the California house fires which burned down Bondy’s home the day after this album was completed.
At times it feels like a continuous stream of uneven synths, skinny drumbeats and frayed vocals.
Tracks effortlessly bleed into one another to the point where A.A. Bondy has built this new world comprising of atmospheric textures and an off-kilter emotional intensity. Bondy‘s greatest strength has always been his glorious ear for melody and while his mode to reach these points has altered on Enderness, there’s still more than enough to cotton onto.
His sharp tongue on opener, Diamond Skull, singles out white supremacy “Would I lie/swastikeye” while the opening sequence to the brilliant Killers 3 cuts through the bone as he sings “Murder is more entertaining than peace ever will be to a killer, hungry hearted killers everywhere I go, walking the streets”.
Enderness is filled with these all-encompassing moments.
It’s an album that grows stronger as time gets on. I’ll Never Know is Bondy at his most soulful. At his most morose and reflective. The piano lineage through Fentanyl Freddy makes the track and continues Enderness’ upward trajectory. Its minimalism alongside Bondy’s sleepy vocal projecting a vibe of sheer comfort.
#Lost Hills is the most conventional track on the album but that’s not to take anything from its profound magic as Bondy sings, “River take me to California/I pray my way to hell/From suicide to saturnalia/A life in dreams to tell/Apocalypse from every highway/The places that we fled/As I return to California/My spirit under-fed“. Vintage Bondy right there.
Enderness is a country soul record which nods to hip hop and doo wop.
Here, it feels like we are getting Bondy’s true persona. He has never been one to be hemmed in to scenes or the status quo and this album is a testament to his moral patchwork. While A.A. Bondy’s previous three albums oozed with finely crafted finger-picking alt-country tailor-made for open roads,
Enderness is an album which is the result of an artist who has totally reinvented himself. It’s as bleak as it is beautiful and marks a strong return for one of today’s finest and most elusive troubadours. – Simon Kirk
Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild
Sacred Bones Records
Ever since the release of the absolutely banging lead single House vs. House, we’ve been waiting impatiently for the rest of Blanck Mass’s fourth studio album. What started as an ambient side project from Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power has grown into a substantial proposition, one whose output is, dare we say it, threatening to eclipse that of his partnership with Andrew Hung.
Indeed, he’s carried over several signature moves from his Fuck Buttons days: the glitchily euphoric, Mogwai-esque basslines on Wings of Hate and the gradual layering of House vs. House, to name just two.
Where Blanck Mass differs from Fuck Buttons, at least on this release, is how focused and intense it is. While something on FB’s Slow Focus might meander or degrade, Animated Violence Mild hits hard with a brutal precision. Death Drop is an android sentinel march, with playful chip-tune interludes interrupting the Boss metal zone vocals; Wings of Hate is a gloriously dramatic sci-fi credits sequence; Love is a Parasite is a harsh, speaker-testing prestige strut with sincere, redemptive pop breakdowns and painful static.
The only respite comes with Creature/West Fuqua, and even that starts with disorientating float into interstellar hydrogen clouds. The result is something like an eighties power-suit death metal version of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where they’ve dispensed with the camp in favour of shiny imperial violence and peaking percussive beats, with occasional blasts of flashbulb fabulousness.
In his promo notes for the release, Power states that the main theme of the record is grief.
Grief not only for the ‘post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves’ and the ‘serpent of consumerism’, but also for the loss of his father, who died towards the end of the album’s recording. However, the grief sits below the surface on Animated Violence Mild.
The emotion most prominent in the music is hope. As such, the album is totally in keeping with Power’s mission statement: that of ‘melody against all odds’. – Matthew Eland
Cave In: Final Transmission
Following the tragic death of Cave In bassist, Caleb Scofield, in March last year, many thought that Cave In would call it a day. Drafting in Converge bassist, Nate Newton, and reworking demos recorded between 2011 and 2018, many of which Scofield was heavily involved with, Cave In accomplish the end result that is Final Transmission.
A behemoth of a record and a fitting tribute to the band’s fallen brother.
Following the opening sequence which is a recording from Schofield’s iPhone, An Illusion storms through what feels like a brick wall given the nature of its sonic ferocity. Beginning with a thinly veiled melody, it bursts at the seams with low-end grooves that shudder and explode.
Shake My Blood, the album’s lead single, is a barnstorming rocker that roars with vigour and splintered angst from Stephen Brodsky, who gives one of his finest performances here as lead singer. Lunar Day spews with floating-in-space feedback as Brodsky almost threatens to use falsetto. It’s Cave In going psych. It’s an interesting juncture, posing as a sonic comedown after such a high-octane beginning to Final Transmission.
Normal business resumes shortly after with Winter Window and Lanterna. Both tracks prove to be an almighty one-two combination of meticulously sculptured riffs and naked anger. It’s anthemic in a way that you want to leap out of your own skin.
Lead to the Wolves brings Final Transmission to a close in brutal fashion. The amplification sounds so loud and sludgy that things threaten to buckle and disintegrate under the weight of feedback and white noise. It’s the unique tones on Final Transmission that elevate Cave In well above their contemporaries.
While they sit somewhere between metal, hardcore and rock, Cave In are certainly a part of a community that welcomes music that operates close to the edges. While Final Transmission is designed for sweaty fleapits we know as live venues, its scope is so wide that it’s equally as welcoming for late-night walks and highway driving.
It’s the perfect tribute to Schofield and we very much hope that this is the first instalment that forms a new frontier for Cave In. – Simon Kirk
If you’re not up to speed Föllakzoid have been making some of the finest dystopian grooves for the last seven years.
I is their fourth full-length release and third for Sacred Bones, following 2015’s III, 2013’s II and 2009’s eponymous debut.
Inspired by the landscape of the Andes mountain range which crosses their homeland of Chile, childhood mates Diego, Juan Pablo, and Domingo imbue sprawling rhythms with seductive menacing textured beats which is both hypnotic, compelling and unnerving.
Where previous albums have stuck to a more traditional psychedelic fusion of abrasive guitars aligned to dense percussive swells new album I takes a completely opposite route stripping everything back into a minimalistic framework as 17 minute songs merge into a complete 60 minute whole.
This is an album much closer in spirit and sound to Factory Floor than Pink Floyd. And long term listeners may be in for a shop by how they’ve descended into even darker terrain.
The result is techno-psychedelia: a minimal, unremitting drone designed to send you into a spiralling psychosis. Whether you’re adventurous to allow them take you into the abyss with them, is purely a matter of taste – the result should you accept the challenge is rather magikal. – Peter Guy
Husky Loops: I Can’t Even Speak English
We’re fans of Spoon.
So the news their drummer and sound man, Jim Eno produced the new release from Husky Loops is a welcome addition to the band’s pedigree. It seems to be a collaboration that has been going for a while and has worked well. I Can’t Even Speak English is clearly bollocks, for although Husky Loops are Italian-based they have a perfect grasp of what makes the UK tick.
And that’s not always a good look as they ask questions and suggest we are the enemy – “the enemy’s yourself”. It’s a wonderful comment on the state of the nation. This is a soul-searching album and it addresses the issues we feel ought not even to be needed to be addressed.
Slipping Away is perhaps the most obvious, and difficult, listen. These guys have hit a nerve. And it doesn’t get any easier with the disco-ish Everyone Is Having Fun Fun Fun But Me. A bit of a dance off sounds like a laugh.
But, are you having fun? Unlikely. – Peter Goodbody
New Model Army: From Here
New Model Army are an unstoppable force. Neither age nor the fickle winds of fashion can stop them from doing what they do. When they first burst onto the scene they were lumped in with the emerging Goth movement. Since then they have stayed true to their own musical vision and developed or matured in fine fashion.
As often happens with people who stay true to themselves, New Model Army seem to have found themselves in fashion once again and their last few albums, 2013’s Between Dog and Wolf, 2014’s Between Wine and Blood and 2016’s Winter have seen them returned to the charts and attendance at their shows rise to previous levels.
This is a good thing, because rarely do New Model Army let the quality control drop below their own high benchmark. From Here finds New Model Army in almost plaintive mood.
Not that From Here is a laid back record, New Model Army still pack a punch, but there is melancholy here too.
The production on From Here is incredible and manages to achieve maximum intensity for all of the elements that make up their songs, but there is a space for all the instruments that allow them to carry the lyrics to great effect. Singer Justin Sullivan has a voice that packs emotion into every word and tale and he makes sure he has a fine band around him at all times.
At times (End of Days, Watch and Learn) the sound is vintage New Model Army, while at others (Passing Through, Great Disguise) there is a world-weariness that seeps through their bones, like the elder spokesmen that have become.
From Here continues New Model Army‘s spectacular run of form. On this evidence, they can keep this up as long as they choose to. – Banjo
The Night Cafe: 0151
The Night Café’s debut record is perhaps one of most eagerly awaited albums from a Liverpool band in recent times. The four-piece have been growing their fan base over the past few years, releasing some excellent singles and delivering superb live shows.
They’ve certainly become a leading light on Merseyside, with other upcoming bands looking up to them for influence. The first time I came across them was in 2016 at Manchester Academy 2 supporting The Hunna. In many ways, they outshone the Watford rockers and their catchy indie tunes got the crowd bouncing.
Fast forward 18-months and I was watching them at their headline Arts Club show. With a packed out room of their own fans, it became even more apparent what potential this band has. They continue to work their way up the ladder, playing bigger and better venues on each tour. The release of 0151 will certainly boost that further.
The Night Café’s debut album isn’t conventional in many ways; it’s not just a few indie songs, it’s so much more. From the intro, which slips into Finders Keepers seamlessly, the album flows superbly and is a great collective piece of music. The old songs fit in well alongside the newer stuff, offering a nice nod to the tracks which put them on the map. Addicted has a new freshness to it, as do the other early songs from their back catalogue.
The new offerings from the four-piece are also great, and truly show the step forward they have taken in a bid to reach that next level. Sitting right in the centre of the LP is I Know (I’m Sure) and Endless Lovers which provides the tone of the contrast of songs on 0151.
Towards the end of the album In My Head and A Message to Myself both stand out for the sheer emotion they express. Both are lyrically spot on and demonstrate the quality the band are capable of.
Throughout this debut, The Night Café have produced a truly enjoyable piece of work, something that will be certain to pack out the Olympia in October. – Amos Wynn
Parallel Colors: Conversations
696018 Records DK
Louisville, Kentucky three-piece Parallel Colors (that is spelt the American way without the letter u) return with their second full-length effort. It’s a collection that drummer Ben Elliot informs us is more “darker, groovier and ambient” than 2017’s Terminal.
This is evident from the feedback and ambient noise of opening cut Introspection which blends into the piano and dirty yet funky bass line of second track Negative Light.
Standout track Strange is an eight-minute masterpiece which makes use of the post-rock conventions of shifting dynamics to great effect whilst alternating between metalesque riffs and more mellow arpeggios.
The band were very clear in stating that this is a totally DIY undertaking and they have become much more competent with home recording techniques.
If you are a fan of Mogwai, Mugstar, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Explosions In The Sky then Conversations is likely to provide you with a very enjoyable forty-two minutes. If they ever get to tour the UK let’s hope they make a visit to our city by the sea. – Andy Sunley
Pixies: Beneath the Eyrie
Iconic grunge and alt-rock pioneers Pixies are back with their seventh album Beneath The Eyrie and have seemingly been playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons while touring the globe. It’s a phantasmagorical exploration of phantasmic songwriting far from their usual intrapersonal alt-rock classics.
A galloping guitar and drum duo break into the album for In The Arms Of Mrs Mark Of Cain with a ghostly guitar tone puncturing the rhythm. Track Catfish Kate follows the simple story of the protagonist trying to catch a fish for their dinner.
A far cry from the mind-altering Pixies classics which make you question your psyche but an enjoyable listen nonetheless. Its got an even more bizarre video to accompany it. The album really takes on its fantastical imagery as it moves to This Is My Fate as a mischievous bluesy riff carries the track. Singer Black Francis feels like he’s singing at the piano at The Prancing Pony in Lord Of The Rings belting out morning spirits in harmony.
Its an album of stories and one they describe themselves as a record “where tales of witches, Daniel Boone, misfits and other characters fit utterly into the band’s inherent weirdness.”
None more so than Silver Bullet, which is a real obscure track following a hunt for a werewolf to be defeated by a silver bullet. Its themes are straight out of Terry Pratchett but the guitar work and the accompaniment to the outlandish themes are vintage Pixies, flowing and woozy guitars with big crescendos but with the overdrive set to one side. Classic grungey tones rip through Los Surfers Muertos as ominous and eerie vocals breeze over the spooky track.
When propositioned with an album themed with fantasy you wouldn’t be mistaken to be a little worried about what was to come, would it all be a bit Iron Maiden? But Black Francis and the gang take it in their stride and swap out the dragons roars for subtle songwriting and expert musicianship.
The trio of St Nazaire, Bird Of Prey and Daniel Boone seemingly combine for a lone ranger troubadour aesthetic riding over the desert. Big alt-riffs tear into St Nazaire as western cowboy tones arrive in Birds of Prey.
The journey climaxes at Daniel Boone as another ghostly intro leads into the sound that all classic Pixies fans are here for- a massive anthemic stadia rock solo. The album may allude to the supernatural and adventure but Pixies still know how to write songs that please the biggest of rooms and crowds.
All finished off with Death Horizon which is a nice folky epilogue taking the fantasy themes to the beaches of Waikiki. It’s no Surfer Rosa or Doolittle but is a legendary band exploring their songwriting capabilities and putting themselves in a different creative set of shoes.
Pixies hit the road to promote their new album with a UK tour this month several dates including Manchester Apollo on September 18. – Will Whitby
Ride: This is Not a Safe Place
Wichita Recordings Ltd
Cards on the table, I was never a fan of Ride back in their heyday, they somehow passed me by. Largely because of the S word that they were intrinsically linked with.
The blandest sounding of all the genres. Yet here we all are in 2019, and Ride are back with the second album of their second coming, following on from the success of 2017’s comeback Weather Diaries, and is their sixth in total.
This record, as with the last, sees the esteemed producer and DJ Erol Alkan back at the helm, an odd choice, given that the records he is best associated with have somewhat of a dancier electro element to them.
Saying that, any wall of fuzzy noise preconceptions that we had are blown apart on the very first track R.I.D.E, which owes more to Chemical Brothers than My Bloody Valentine. On recent single Future Love, Ride sound almost joyous. It’s all Marr-esque jangly guitar flourishes.
There’s even a Heaven 17 feel to the chorus on Repetition, and speaking of repetition, the constant pounding thud on Kill Switch becomes hypnotic, married to a deeper vocal, it’s reminiscent of The Raveonettes.
There is no navel-gazing misery at work here.
Alas, the pace of change cannot be maintained all the way through, there are still a few moments that see them fall back on their past sword. Clouds Of Saint Marie is pointlessly fey, whilst Eternal Recurrence sees them flying too close to a dull sun.
Fifteen Minutes is a later highlight, all thundering guitars and Britpop la-la-la’s. It’s another unexpected pop moment on an album stuffed full of them. The retro mention of Dial Up is one of the few signs of age catching up with them, before the album ends with the mellow, epic In This Room.
A band that sounds like they still have much to say, and an album that, in places, will attract new ears as well as the past glory merchants. – Steven Doherty
Slipknot: We Are Not Your Kind
After a long wait since 2014’s The Gray Chapter, Iowanian nu-metal icons Slipknot have returned with a vengeance for their latest effort – We Are Not Your Kind.
And what a record it is.
Starting with the usual theatrical introductory track typical for the group, this segues into lead single Unsainted, fusing a lush choral ensemble with the signature mayhem of Slipknot, which is coincidentally pretty much exactly how I imagine the inside of Animal from The Muppets’ head to sound.
Unsainted is Slipknot back at their very best, with a simultaneously aggressive track melding with catchy hooks and a slick breakdown to produce one which will undoubtedly end up in the inevitable greatest hits compilation. We’re then treated to Birth of the Cruel, which pulls the tempo down to a more relaxed 74bpm as we’re shown some more of the heavier side of frontman Corey Taylor.
Make no mistake, this album certainly isn’t the raw, unpolished sound of their self-titled album, or the more honed yet still intensely aggressive Iowa, but while the band have grown in maturity the passion and energy from their music remains – possibly even more than ever before.
Tight scratches from Sid Wilson return with a greater prominence than has been heard in the last couple of releases by the group, We Are Not Your Kind is all the better for it. Somehow, We Are Not Your Kind manages to feel like the equivalent of a gritty reboot to a film franchise, yet fortunately doesn’t change too much of the winning formula of the previous five releases by the group.
The theatricality of Slipknot is heard prominently through the record, with interludes such as Death Because of Death and What’s Next suitably breaking up the action between hard-hitting behemoths such as Nero Forte and Not Long For This World, the latter of which is arguably amongst the most intense tracks released by the group.
If you were expecting the record to slow down the pace as it draws to a close – you were sorely mistaken, as finisher Solway Firth is the haymaker knockout punch rendering We Are Not Your Kind the least chart-friendly release the group has made in a good number of years…
…which is pretty ironic considering the group have had the most chart success they’ve had in a number of years with this record, which has remarkably toppled the considerably less metal figure of Ed Sheeran from the coveted number one spot.
We Are Not Your Kind is one for metal fans everywhere, and is even one for those who fancy dipping their toes in the waters of heavier music. If you haven’t already given it a spin, you’re missing out on one of the metal best albums of 2019 so far, and even one of the best records of 2019 so far. – Max Richardson
Claire Welles: Transpose
Claire Welles is prolific. This is her twentieth release available on Bandcamp, whether in the form of a single, EP or LP over the last 10 years or so.
She experiments with different styles and genres of music and it would be impossible to describe her body of work in a few words other, perhaps, than to say she is eclectic and will refuse to be packed up into any particular box.
From the early stuff, such as album Potboiler (which sounds a bit like Kraftwerk having a bad dream) to the weirdness of say, the single Esther Greenwood, Claire has never been afraid of pushing boundaries.
It was no surprise therefore that when we asked 13 questions of Liverpool based collective SPINE, the self-proclaimed noise freaks and general music botherers about town, they recommended we listen to Claire’s last album, Blush. That was a brooding, sprawling, emotional and pretty dark piece of work.
We’re not surprised SPINE were into it.
The current release, Transpose, is a much happier, poppier, body of work, at least in the way it sounds if you don’t listen too hard to the lyrics.
There are still songs with titles such as Viral Infection and Shit For Brains- sample lyrics: “Life’s a piece of piss, especially when you’ve got no kids”), so this is no love in.
But the feel of this album is nevertheless a kind of Pet Shop Boys with a sharp sting in the tail. Claire Welles is irreverent, funny and ruthless.
This may perhaps be one of her more radio-friendly releases, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Next time, she’ll come out kicking. – Peter Goodbody
Whitney: Forever Turned Around
The last time we heard from Chicago-based Whitney they were the easy-breezy bros stepping out into the wider world imbued with optimism, wonder and romanticism – the feeling was so infectious we fell head over heels gifting them our number one album of 2016.
Forever Turned Around is like the return of a good friend you’ve not seen for some time – but there’s something lost or broken.
There’s always been a wistful melancholy coursing through vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek odes but where Light Upon The Lake was a wide-eyed love letter to the future Forever Turned Around seems more of sigh to what’s gone, and will never be rekindled.
There’s genuine sadness and longing in Ehrlich‘s beautiful falsetto. See the way he coos desperation in Valleys (My Love), “There’s gotta be another way, I’ve been on my own all day, pretending everything’s alright, we’ve been drifting apart sometime.”
This feeling is echoed right across Forever Turned Around‘s instrumentation as their folksy-pop doesn’t effuse the bright spark of their debut, instead it is replaced by a pensive, mournful or downright sorrowful tone – see intro and lead single’s Giving Up‘s tearful waltz before their characteristic introduction of brass brightens up the narrative in the final third.
Equally downbeat are the final three tracks which neatly segue into a triptych of soulful blues; Day & Night with it’s swoonsome guitars aligned to lyrics about drifting and feeling strange, Friend of Mine which takes The Band‘s template of Americana wrapping delicious harmonies around a longing ragtime tune before the title track’s closing statement: “Has your heart grown heavy by now, because mine’s already on the ground,” sums up the album’s over all feel.
There are, however, brighter notes – the brass-to-the-fore instrumental of Rhododendron plays on their superlative nature as a tight-ass live outfit before fading out way too soon. While Before I Know It is a simply gorgeous track uplifted by a final flourish of lush sweeping orchestration.
By taking the same approach as their quite magnificent debut, Whitney have repeated that blueprint, yet with thinly layered woe Forever Turned Around is a without a doubt a more difficult listen which will inevitably underwhelm some of their fan base.
That said, there’s few bands out there who can create such beautiful timeless music as this and make it seem so easy. Expect tears. – Peter Guy