Albums Club #41: Metronomy, Bat for Lashes, The Utopia Strong, Black Futures, M83, Marvin Powell and more


Albums Club #41 – November 2019

Another busy month for albums as the Getintothis team round up the best under the radar picks of the month.

One of the great plusses about compiling a regular albums club is that Getintothis staffers dig up a dozen or more tips for new albums each month.

As part of putting all this together, I obviously edit the copy that comes in and, more often than not, am then intrigued enough to download or listen to the albums.

A better way of staying up to date with the latest releases is hard to imagine – someone asked me recently what kind of music I listen to. I replied ‘new music’.

But you don’t have to compile the Albums Club to take advantage of this, you could just read them, exactly as you are at this moment.

Even in this one single column we have prog rock from a legendary snooker world champion, a state of the nation UK rap address, new country and American shoegaze.  None of which this writer would otherwise have listened to.

And its fascinating hearing all these.  There is so much good music being made that sometimes we need someone to guide us to these gems.

Once, a few years ago, there was a period where I lost touch with new music. I’m not exactly sure why now –  too busy, too skint, mmy attention elsewhere.  But life was all the more poorer for it.

I hadn’t stopped listening to music, I just briefly fell into the trap of only listening to music that I already knew.

Music is a vital part of life; it is the reason we’ve met most of our friends, it is what we do, who we are and where we go.

We’re not 100% sure this is actually true, but it feels like there is more good music being made these days than ever before and recommendations from people whose taste we trust is important.

Hopefully, if you browse through our latest Albums Club there will be something in there that you will connect with, something we can introduce you to.

Maybe even something that will make your life richer. – Banjo, Features Editor

Album of the Month

The Utopia Strong: The Utopia Strong
Rocket Recordings

This is a convincing debut effort from The Utopia Strong, the recently formed trio of Kavus Torabi (formerly of Gong, Knifeworld), Michael J. York (Coil, Guapo) and Steve Davis (yes, the former Snooker World Champion turned modular synth nerd).

It’s a thoroughly modern psychedelic record, occasionally a little reminiscent of Rocket Recordings’ label mates Teeth of the Sea, but comparisons seem unfair for such an assured first offering that largely treads its own path.

The tracks are the product of a series of improvised sessions, which is evident on a first listen, but it’s also clear that those sessions have been tastefully edited and supplemented with additional layers. Though the record is instantly appealing on a first spin, attentive listeners will still hear new things after multiple plays. In short, it’s a grower.

It’s a surprisingly upbeat, at times even euphoric record, diverging from some of the music that York and Torabi’s names have previously been associated with, and featuring a range of sounds and moods from kosmiche minimalism and ambient head-trips to underground dancefloor-fillers.

Though unmistakably an underground, experimental record, it’s not so out-there that it couldn’t find a respectably sized audience, and no doubt the impossible-to-ignore novelty factor of Steve Davis’s presence will attract some listeners merely out of curiosity.

That’s a double-edged sword for the band though, who have collaborated on a very fine debut which deserves instead to be judged on its own, not inconsiderable merits. – Gary Aster

Bat for Lashes: Lost Girls
Bat for Lashes

Bat for Lashes’ music has long had a cinematic feel to it.  As an example, previous album The Bride told the tale of a woman whose fiancé died on the way to their wedding, and the unrest and anguish caused by this tragic turn of events.

Lost Girls also started with a story.  This time, Bat for LashesNatasha Khan started writing a film script about a character called Nikki Pink, who falls in love with a boy from a town that is being terrorized by mystical biker girls.

Inspired by her move to LA, Khan was reminded of 80s films such as Lost Boys, The Goonies and the like and was thus inspired to write a film that flipped things around and let a girl be the hero.

Much has been made of Lost Girls’ 80s sound, with one reviewer going so far as to say “Musically, Lost Girls couldn’t be more Eighties if it were playing a Commodore 64 while eating Angel Delight

While the album undoubtedly looks to the 80s for its influences, it is still obviously a modern record.  Unlike, say, La Roux, Lost Girls is not a copycat version of the 80s, but merely an album that looks back to that decade for a jumping off point.

Opener Kids in the Dark starts things off with a gentle 80s electro groove before Khan’s vocal starts up and we are back on recognisable Bat for Lashes territory.  Maybe it is her voice, familiar now after six albums, that makes the music seem rooted in the present day rather than a decade almost forty years old.

The Hunger and Desert Man further showcase Khan’s channelling of Kate Bush and would fit on her 80s Hounds of Love album without raising too much of an eyebrow.

Instrumental track Vampires meanwhile brings echoes of The Cure to mind while closer Mountain is a pop epic.  In fact, Lost Girls is Bat for Lashes most pop sounding album to date and is all the more appealing for it.

We’re still hoping the Lost Girls film gets made, but in the meantime the concept/soundtrack album will do us just fine.  – Banjo

Big Brave: A Gaze Among Them
Southern Lord

Montreal outift, Big Brave (Robin Wattie – vocals, guitar, bass, Mathieu Ball – guitar, and Loel Campbell  – drums), return with their fourth album, A Gaze Among Them.

Big Brave‘s home at Southern Lord may seem an odd fit given their sound could be defined as a little safer than their label stable mates. However, make no mistake. They very much hold their own and with A Gaze Among ThemBig Brave have crafted their finest artistic moment yet.

Big Brave‘s sound focuses predominantly on space, volume, tone and emotion and with the five compositions which comprise A Gaze Among Them, they accomplishment each facet admirably.

It commences with Muted Shifting of Space. Just under nine minutes, the track bursts with fuzz-laden drone and Wattie‘s raw shrieking vocal.

Holding Pattern is hands down the album’s highlight. It balances Big Brave‘s explosive heaviness and fragile minimalism. It’s a searing composition of hypnotic tribal rock.

While Holding Pattern is the album’s high point, Body Individual is certainly the centre piece of the album. Ticking over the ten minute mark, it builds into a cacophony of bowel shuddering drone. If a meditative religious retreat for the metal community existed then this is the track to greet its guests.

Red Rum Club, The Mysterines, Ali Horn: O2 Academy, Liverpool

A Gaze Among Them is fuelled with down-tuned guitars that throb and swell with a dynamic intensity, drenching listeners with bruising waves of feedback.

It’s a sonic storm of nuclear proportions conceived from carefully sculptured repetition and tear jerking tones. It’s a pure cathartic experience. – Simon Kirk

Black Futures: Never Not Nothing
Music for Nations

One of the highlights of Sound City 2019 was seeing Black Futures at a small dingy venue as they absolutely tore the roof off.

It was a chaotic, phenomenal set, with influences of Slaves, The KLF and all points in between.

We came out of that gig convinced that they’d be playing arenas by Christmas.  Why has this not happened?

This album is a triumph. It’s impossible to believe that this noise only comes from two people (Space and Vibes, pretty sure they may not be their real names)

It’s a record where the influences are prevalent, but they are scurrying away like musical magpies, turning it into something unlike the sum of its parts.

This sounds like nothing else we’ve heard this year, a glorious mix of heaviness and general madness.  It erupts on the P.O.S featuring Love, reminiscent of a bleaker, apocalyptic version of The Prodigy, a massive soundscape that remains throughout the record.

That’s not to dismiss it as a one trick pony, there’s variety running through it in spades. It may have seemed to be a struggle to replicate their thrilling live extravaganza (for that is what it is) but no such worries as this record amply demostrates.

It’s a record to blast out at appallingly high volumes.  It never rests, it rolls along breathlessly as all debuts should, in a rush to spit out their truths.

Tunnel Vision is the undoubted album highlight, quite straightforward and conventional with more melody than others, almost a pop single.

The only slight downside with any futuristic sounding venture is that it could date quite quickly and sound faded but there’s too much high quality songsmithery at work here for that.

It’s as bruising as it is exhilarating.  Bravo, Black Futures. – Steven Doherty

Blushing: Blushing
Hands and Moment Records

If the story of Austin, Texas dreampop was written in comic book form, then the origin story would begin with Michelle Soto playing her songs to friend and classically trained musician Christina Carmona.

The story arc would end when they recruited their husbands and recorded their debut EP (2017’s Tether.)

The big screen blockbuster would be their full length and self titled release which has received plaudits from the excellent online radio station DKFM.

Opening track So Many begins in a rather mellow vein with reverb drenched guitars and some beautifully understated vocal harmonies.

However, the fuzz box comes into play at the 2 minute and thirty seconds mark changing the tone from chill out to mosh pit.

Single, The Truth is an uptempo number that evokes memories of pre-Britpop indie and, to a lesser extent, the Melody Maker singles charts before early grunge reigned supreme in the pages of the inkies.

Whilst it is early days for Blushing they are tentatively planning a European tour in the Spring of 2020.

Let’s hope that events beyond our control in the corridors of power do not prevent them from visiting the UK. It goes without saying that a stop in Liverpool would be a gig not to miss.

Although this does not have an offical UK release yet, a limited number of vinyl copies of the album will be available in the UK via Rough Trade. – Andy Sunley

Alex Cameron: Miami Memory
Secretly Canadian

He’s back, the Sydney Sleazebag. Ten viciously satirical vignettes of love, lust and lowlife in the layby.
You know the score by now, so here’s the top lyrical wonders from his second album for Secretly Canadian, Miami Memory.
Been on dating apps in Budapest, we got high as fuck in Prague, sodomy in Berlin without no guten tag.” – PC With Me.
I got friends in Kansas City with a motherfucking futon couch, if that’s how you want to play it, I’m drinking in the dark because my battery’s all ran out, all you got to do is say it – divorce.” – Divorce.

Now, she’s doing sex work, pays bills while you all still text jerks, she buys her own damn meals, you sit at home and masturbate while she plays grown-ups for real” – Far From Born Again.

Eating your ass like an oyster, the way you came like a tsunami.” – Miami Memory.

We’re at brunch and the scampi’s on ice, I’m feeling like a million bucks, in he comes, this bobbing turd, this piece of shit he just won’t flush.” – Too Far.

There’s a guy who thinks I’m fucking his girlfriend, he says he’s gonna make me cry, but I couldn’t get it up if I wanted to, man, yeah, and I already want to die.” – Bad For The Boys.

Calm me down, babe, I know I’ve been away, I’m coming back for the holidays, boots all shined, I’m Santa Clause with AIDS, selling pornographic Polaroids and counterfeit shades” – PC With Me.

I could leave your ovulation to meet Elon and his clan, with his batteries full of sunlight and his cars that run on sand, and I go weak with constipation, from all the pills and the spam.” – Divorce.

I been working like you told me, pitching shows to NBC, but that old Tim Allen ain’t the way he used to be, it’s not for me, TV.” – Other Ladies. – Peter Guy

The Highwomen: The Highwomen

The Highwomen first turned heads earlier this year at the Newport Folk festival, when dressed head to toe in superstar dresser Manuel Cuevas.

They then surprised the Country music lovin’ folk with their guest, Dolly Parton.

Since then, 3 times Grammy-winning Brandi Carlile, fiddle virtuoso Amanda Shires along with renowned Music Row writer Natalie Hemby and Country-Pop phenomenon Maryn Morris have been busy in the studio working on their self titled debut album with A-List producer David Cobb.

Redesigning Women was an apt choice for the first glimpse into the album. Hemby pens a universal voice for women who’ve got something to say with witty, tongue and cheek lyrics sang in unison, “Making bank, shaking hands, driving 80, tryna get home just to feed the baby”.

Opening track, The Highwomen, offers the heart and soul of the album in a modern day adaption of the Jimmy Webb classic The Highwaymen.

Joined by UK writer Yola and with an assigned verse each The Highwomen perform the same haunting melodies as heard in 1985 only this time the lyrics focus on symbolic women who perished in acts of defiance.

Carlile takes on the romantic If She Ever Leaves Me with humbling truths in its words ‘If she ever leaves/it’s gonna be for a woman with more time’, a ballad written specifically for her by Shires and her husband along with Highwomen guitarist Jason Isbell.

Slow builder Old Soul carves Morris‘ position in the group with her distinctive voice and mature lyrics ‘Beyond my years is where I like to stand’.

Listen to My Only Child for a surprisingly gentle lullaby from Hemby, similarly, Shires exposes the heartache from a loss in Cocktail And A Song.

The Highwomen invite us into their homes, using their own unique platforms in the painfully competitive Country music industry to tell it how it is, their seamless harmonies in turn creating one authentic new voice. – Naomi Campbell

Julie’s Haircut: In The Silence Electric
Rocket Recordings

Italian collective Julie’s Haircut burst on to our stereo more than two years ago with Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin, their seventh album and first for Rocket Recordings.

A slow-burning, yet explosive package there was much decipher with the labyrinthine layers of chaotic Krautrock, jazzy time signatures and volcanic Stooges-aping riffage.

Such is their musical scope, it is hardly a surprise they’ve remained largely off many people’s radars yet their set at the 2017 edition of Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia cemented them, for this writer, in the top tier of Europe’s most innovative bands.

What marks them out from their contemporaries is they manage to hone their sound – rarely making noise for noise sake – and imbue their music with oodles of melody and enough saxophone freak-outs when necessary.

On their second album for Rocket Recordings, In The Silence Electricthey’ve further fine-tuned their delivery making their most accessible racket yet while never diluting the finished results.

Until The Lights Go Out exemplifies their magnificence – a malevolent tribal chugging march made for the live arena complete with free-wheeling cop show brass.

The highlights are considerable – Darling’s Of The Sun drips with magnetic seduction, Sorcerer oozes a glistening Suicide-inspired fuzz and Emerald Kiss is a widescreen droning stomp.

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Elsewhere there’s blissed out sonic hypnotism that will delight Spiritualized fans with Lord Help Me Find A Way and In Return dialing in mystical tripped out psychosis.

While In The Silence Electric turns down the experimental assault often delivered on Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin, it delivers in a more rounded and perhaps more accessible album.

Let’s hope this results in more listeners because we can’t shout any louder about this truly electric band. – Peter Guy

Sarathy Korwar: More Arriving
The Leaf Label

Politically and climatically we are slap bang in the middle of one of the most unsettling eras in British modern history.

At a time when being born and raised in the UK lacks any certainty or clarity in belonging to what would be considered typical society. Where divisions and resentment for neighbours are heightened by a spread of toxic animosity and prejudice hostility in daily life.

For those not indigenous, this atmospheric resentment and disturbed notion is a daily, and ever so daunting battle.

Sarathy Korwar has used the platform of his music to great effect showing what life is like when staring in the face of this spite at the sharp end.

Born and raised in India before moving to the UK, Korwar’s latest album More Arriving is a beautiful yet harrowing concept album shining a self-experienced spotlight on immigration and what life is like for South Asian people in modern Britain.

Korwar intricately yet effortlessly blends several musical genres including modern jazz, Indian, and British hip-hop, classical Indian and spoken word for More Arriving, an album full of dynamic ebbs and flows where the ear is kept as intrigued as the mind.

There’s elements of free spirited vulnerability in the melody yet severed with politically charged and startling lyrics delivered with deep intensity.

Stand out tracks include City of Words, a sublime sax instrumental which will have listener immersed and almost wandering around the souks of North Africa, before TRAP POJU cuts through the record with spine chilling clarity in the vocals.

Bol is a brilliant spoken word overlay on classical Indian core focusing on racial prejudicial characterisation in the UK.

Mango is chilling narrative of working class brown people which lays claim to having the record’s best lyric of “snap poll, which racist do you want on your bank note”.  – Kev Barrett

Los Blancos: Sbwriel Gwyn

White lads with guitars are the default position of rock n roll, no matter how forcefully denied, so it’s always a blessed relief to see conventions given the what for by an all male four piece line up.

As is the case here.

Following Los Blancos‘ singles over the past year or so has been a ride, each double A–side offering twists and turns, embracing a more comfortable slacker rock, before bringing in slices of uncompromising punk, alternating from raw to occasions of real beauty.

The album embraces everything loved, from record collections and playlists, places and people. There’s even a song about the bass player’s dog in there.

With tracks already heard and the translation of Sbwriel Gwyn revealed as White Trash, this record produced by Kris Jenkins aka Sir Doufus Styles (SFA, Gruff Rhys, Cate Le Bon, H Hawkline, Gulp) was never going to be short on attitude.

Somewhat hilariously, Facebook translate claims the album title in English to be Rubbish White, White Litter amongst others, the social media giant not quite up to speed with the progress of Welsh music in 2019.

Don’t even ask what Twitter throws up.

Sbwriel Gwyn is no predictable excursion, though straight into the mosh pit, no messing about, we go with opener Dilyn Iesu Grist (Follow Jesus Christ). I’m taking a guess here as – rudimentary greetings and curses aside – a non-Welsh speaker, and take it as a given there’s sarcasm involved on this commentary on the hollowness of empty rhetoric.

Ti Di Newid finds the four piece firmly in slacker territory, the fuzz cranked right up, surprising with an audience-pleasing chorus to die for.

The raw punk of Pymtheg Stôn o Anhrefn Pur (Fifteen Tons of Pure Disorder) speaks for itself, but there’s subtleties on the record to enjoy too.

Cadw Fi Lan is dangerously close to charming from the get-go with its delicious and dreamy country sliding.

And the title track is a nod to shared rural roots – the band met at school as young boys, that shared sense of kinship evident – and jangles affectionately.

Confidence in identity runs boldly through these twelve songs. Sbwriel Gwyn ends with lighters aloft-worthy, unashamedly vulnerable Clarach, affections for a small beach on the Cardigan coast north of Aberystwyth.

Rumour has it the album we hear today is version two due to a studio flood destroying the original recordings, meaning Los Blancos were forced to re record in a community centre instead of a studio, with tight time constraints.

Maybe it’s this gives it the edge, a sense of organised chaos? It’s scruffy and scuffed at the edges, affectionately well thumbed, big hearted and above all outward looking.

Don’t be like Facebook. For the love that all is holy, don’t be like Twitter either. Take Los Blancos to your hearts. There’s so much of theirs in this record, after all. – Cath Holland


DSVII is the latest album from French electronic outfit M83 released via Naive and Mute records. It is the sequel to 2007’s Digital Shades Vol 1 which saw a younger Anthony Gonzalez explore the worlds of shoegaze, ambient and drone.

12 years on and a few albums later including 2011’s seminal Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming he is back with DSVII and is as playful and adventurous as ever.

It plays through as a concept soundtrack to a great film or game rather than a standalone album. It is immersive, intriguing and enigmatic but at times tiresome. Gonzalez has free rein really over what concept his apparent film score follows at times taking us through soaring galaxies, others through youthful memories and sometimes just a truck-load of synth does the job.

The album opens with drones from Hell Raiders as the retro arcade synth sounds take you from Runescape to Knightmare in a couple of minutes as it consumes you into the album. From the get-go, it is clear what this album is, it is a soundtrack that demands your attention. If you’re a returning M83 fan expecting the euphoria of Midnight City, it is not here I’m afraid.

A Bit Of Sweetness conjures up a chilled fantasy akin to a Lord of the Rings scene with strings and delicate synths. Think Elrond meets Spandau Ballet. Gonzalez’s adventure goes through Colonies as droning synths surround and pull you in like a Sigur Ros-esque electric storm. Meet The Friends is a nostalgic piano ballad fresh out of Pixar with cool jazz organs.

The intergalactic high points are still there, you just have to find them. Feelings packs a punch with a synth crescendo that everyone has been waiting for as it feels like you are flying through space on crocodile and no one knows why but no one cares.

This isn’t just Gonzalez flicking through Netflix and choosing what genre to write for. Its well thought out and with every listen you take in a new little motif which you hadn’t heard before. Take the soulful vocal flutterings on A Word Of Wisdom or the juvenile piano melodies on Jeux d’enfants which almost follows a kid’s adventures with his friends in the woods.

At times though, you do incur a need to see what is on the other side as the melodies within Oh Yes You’re There do become repetitive and tiresome.

Ending with Taifun Glory it sounds like we’ve won the battle as Temple Of Sorrow plays out as a solemn end credits. Pick your wrappers up, it is time to go home but the finale blasts into the biggest crescendo as massive synth lines collide with ghostly choirs to make you wait for that Tango Ice Blast on the walk out of the cinema.

A soundtrack to an Oscar winner which hasn’t been written yet but at times drops into Channel 5 afternoon movie rather than five-star blockbuster. 6/10 – Will Whitby

Metronomy: Metronomy Forever
Because Music

Now on album six, you get the impression that Metronomys ringleader Joeseph Mount still has a lot more prove to us. Metronomy Forever puts strong songwriting and melody more at the front than it’s ever been, resulting in their most cohesive album in a while.

The voice is never hidden by instrumentation or production, as has occasionally happened on past albums. Each song sounds quite a bit more discernible than before too, allowing each song find its own distinct sound and style, rather than trying too hard to fit into a specific genre.

Interspersed are a few instrumental tracks that help to gel together the more eclectic songs.

Metronomy are a band who’ve always existed with one foot in the past, and one firmly in the now. Metronomy Forever sees them take their first foray into 90s electronic music, the trance house instrumental of Miracle Rooftop, the saccharine Aqua-pop of Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

The Light is definitely the standout song of the album, equal parts chill dj set and sexy slow jam. It’s a prime example of the less-is-more-mentality that sets this album apart from others, and the song really shines for it.

Lead single Lately sounds so far from Metronomy’s oeuvre, treading on the toes of the indie synth of the likes of Phoenix, but they manage to put their own frenetic spin on it.

However a 17 track album is a hard sell, and even though the variety’s there, there’s some chaff among the wheat. The final three tracks are definitely superfluous, each fairly forgettable in the face of other much more memorable songs.

The final one and a half minute long track Ur Mixtape sees Mount reminisce about giving some girl a mixtape, and then two years later meeting her sister. Pretty bland stuff. By all means the acoustic dirge of Upset My Girlfriend would have been a perfect place to leave the album.

Many NME-championed bands of the 00’s never really make it past album three (hell, a lot didn’t make it past one), but Metronomy have nailed there first six and look like they’re just getting started. – Will Truby

Oh Sees: Face Stabber
Castle Face

22 years, 22 albums, 14 members and 7 names – Oh Sees have a long and prolific history filled with a combination of quality and quantity other bands can only dream of replicating.

Their music has always felt like a continual experiment to document a specific time and the sounds surrounding it, and Face Stabber is no different.

The nonsensicity of opening an album with a chorus of squeaky dog toys is perfect for the tumultuous state we find the world. And it’s one of the most creative ways we’ve seen to demand attention and questions from the listener in recent memory.

The Daily Heavy is the ultimate teaser as to whats instore. Clocking in at just under 8 minutes, the opener feels longwinded in the middle in particular. The band themselves describer it as “daily gluttonous consumption of information, misinformation and conjecture”.

The gluttony feels especially descriptive, this album is made for Oh Sees enthusiasts who until now have simply not gotten enough of their favorite garage rock outfit.

A theme for the record is that John Dwyer and co were not in the mood to kill their darlings. The whole album reaches 80 minutes, around 20-30 minutes longer than the other Oh Sees efforts, and much more than those under their other monikers, leading us to believe the cutting room floor didn’t need much of a sweep.

A quarter of the runtime admittedly is from the finale, Henchlock, which alone is 20 minutes of colliding instruments and genre-bending.

Henchlock is an instrumental we’d be very keen to see in the live arena, this is a marathon of a track which brings you into the studio. You’re left feeling like you’ve just experienced the creative process of Oh Sees – one they’ve mastered after making a full-time job out of what began as a side project.

As the third phase of the Oh Sees era, Face Stabber is the latest whats already been a heavier turn from the indie/alternative sound made by Thee Oh Sees.

Filled with more energy, it sometimes feel like its not been used as efficiently as possible. Perhaps, the album would be stronger if some of the breakdowns had been shortened or cut, delivering the highlights relentlessly without the loading screens.

One of the best things about being an Oh Sees fan is that no matter how you feel about each output, you never have to wait long for the next episode in one of rock’s longest series.

22 years, 22 albums, 14 members and 7 names – Oh Sees have a long and polific history filled with a combination of quality and quantity other bands can only dream of replicating. – Nathan Scally

One True Pairing: One True Pairing

The pressure to either redefine or reassert yourself on your first solo album after leaving a very successful band must be somewhat daunting. However, Tom Fleming, multi-instrumentalist and co-frontman of Wild Beasts, has absolutely taken it in his stride, producing an album that accomplishes both.

Certainly the production sets this album well apart from sounding remotely like Wild Beasts – though certainly not a stranger to synthesisers, here they are the most prominent instrument aside from voice, sounding positively Blade Runner-eque.

Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming talks One True Pairing – “it’s a rallying cry, a record of defiance”

In places they wobble and break, distort messily, evoking images of the darkness and heaviness of factories at night. Given that Fleming has cited northerness and industrialness as being central themes to his music, this seems really quite apt.

As ever one of the main appeals is Fleming’s voice – a breathy, almost slurring baritone with endearing northern inflections. Most songs place the voice right at the front of your attention. He delivers lines like “I’m a dog you just can’t kick enough, show me love and I might bite your hand clean off” with so much brutal honesty, it veers on sounding ominously threatening.

In general the album calls on a number of hallmarks from 80s indie music; with reverb-drenched vocals, thumping synth bass and aggressive drum machine, Dawn At The Factory leans towards gloomy Sisters Of Mercy goth.

Lead single I’m Not Afraid borders on full-throttle upbeat Americana, with chugging chords à la Springsteen and a soaring chorus that briefly lifts you out of the fog and umbra of the rest of the album.

A glistening pitch perfect pop record this is not, and after a few listens it’s certainly better for it.

Fleming has captured the yearning intensity of his Wild Beasts material and tethered it to a moody and thumping behemoth of a record. – Will Truby

Post Malone: Hollywood’s Bleeding
Republic Records

Post Malone’s third studio Album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, really sees him branch out topically and musically.

This album’s opening song is title track Hollywood’s Bleeding. This song acts as the Feeling Whitney of the album, delving into the psyche of Malone as he settles into the life of a famous musician. Sounding unlike any other Post Malone break up song, this reveals an entirely different side of him if you really listen to the lyrics.

Listening to the lyrics it becomes really clear that Malone is disillusioned by fame and Hollywood, questioning the new reality he’s been thrown which sadly throws him through a loop of drug abuse and painted on smiles as he compares Hollywood to ‘vampires feedin’.

This theme is explored through other songs in the album such as Enemies and even Myself giving the album an added bit of depth of existentialism in the life of a musician that Post Malone is known for doing in previous music

.Now, this wouldn’t be a Post Malone album without the occasional break up song: Allergic, is an interesting song that seems to start his foray into experimenting with other genres.  With drums at the forefront of this song it’s easy to assume that it’s completely rock inspired.

However, Malone’s voice softens into singing rather than his usual rapping which hints at the songs more indie influences, creating a unique ‘doo woppy vibe’ as he calls it!

The rest of the brilliant, album also features Malone‘s experimentation with 80’s vibes in Staring at the Sun, the popular song Sunflower from 2018’s Into The Spiderverse film and the extremely popular (and clearly classic rock inspired) song Take What you Want and Go which featured Travis Scott and rock legend Ozzy Osbourne .

This album really sets the bar for his next studio album, though if his track record says anything, he’ll probably just raise the bar even higher when he releases that one,– Yasmine Walker

Marvin PowellDust Of The Day
Skeleton Key

The quintessential Marvin Powell sound, a gentle but rich vocal delivery over a finger picking acoustic guitar style is captured perfectly on his 10 song strong debut album Dust Of The Day out on Skeleton Key .

Recorded at The Coral Caves in Hoylake in 2016, with production by James Skelly, Richard Turvey and Alfie Skelly plus engineering by Tim Cunningham, it’s dedicated to the late great Bob Picken, the erstwhile double bassist in Powell’s band.

Picken is featured on Buried, Powell’s first single and the album opener. A highlight on an album of highlights, it’s an enchanting calicowall twinning of east and west and a lyrical mapping of the vagaries of the human condition, Powell’s strength lying in his frightening honesty.

Never afraid to transpose the cry of his soul to a score, his songwriting is intimate, cathartic, as he says, “clearing the noise from my head and my heart” and delivered spontaneous and in the moment, it’s as if the listener is privy to his most precious thoughts.

Other songs here are equally bewitching; from the strange, delightful Above The Portuguese Cafe to the haunting, tremulous quivering of Opulent Heart and the yearning Travelling On, Powell emerges a beautifully subtle, understated talent.

Yes there are influences – Nick Drake, Bert Jansch – but Powell is his own man, dancing to his own beat. – Lois Wilson

Sampa the Great: The Return
Ninja Tune

In the world of female rap, socially conscious thoughts and feelings are usually way down the pecking order when it comes to garnering a following. One who stands out though is Sampa Tembo aka Sampa The Great.

On her debut studio album, The Return, she brings an anger, thoughtfulness and barbed humour missing in many current offerings in said world.

The album’s opener, Mwana, syncopated afro rhythms dovetail with fluttering wind instrumentation as Tembo sings of being physically displaced, yet having her spiritual being strengthened through her Zambian birthplace.

A languidMotown-esque groove forms the backdrop to Freedom, in which she makes pointed barbs towards the music industry, “music is the business, now I’m singin’ in this vehicle, singin’ about my freedom, while they plannin’ how it’s buyable”.

On Grass is Greener, there are echoes of Erykah Badu as Sampa The Great ruminates on how sometimes one has to be true to one’s self, having artistic freedom, rather than being in a destructive professional relationship.

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Guest vocalist Whosane adds a soft, neo-soul undercurrent to Dare To Fly as Tembo berates those who fail to recognise her place in the musical firmament, “recognise my art, I don’t need your praise”.

Her free-flowing style comes to the fore on OMG, in which she fiercely celebrates her blackness, “never underestimate your highness, dripped in melanin, galaxy’s finest”.

Although this is a rather sprawling album, coming in at almost 78 minutes, there’s enough on here to showcase Sampa The Great as an artist who could well be a flagbearer for female rap artists who are politically and socially conscious.

Straddling hip-hop, jazz, soul and afro-beats, The Return is a most confident and exuberant album. – Mark Flannery

Tenesha the Wordsmith: Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts
On The Corner

This fusion of spoken word and understated jazz / hip-hop beats caught our eye in a recent trip to Rough Trade, Nottingham. It’s the classic case of judging by the cover, which is a striking portrait of Tenesha as piece of Dali / Picasso-esque surrealism.

She has four hands and peacock feathers for her hair. The album was on one of the listening posts so I had the chance to sample for a few minutes before I decided this was CD that deserved further investigation and attention.

It’s spoken word first and music second. It’s poetry with a soundtrack.

Tenesha is from Oakland, California which she says is: “a place where revolutionaries are born”. Certainly, she’s not shy about coming forward: “I’d like to be an African Cinderalla, but … I am a black woman, I’m the one who cut you up in traffic … I’m a black woman working, corny ass poems aren’t supposed to appeal to be me.

In the album notes, Tenesha writes: “I write about what I want to celebrate; family, community, resilience, and hope. I also write about what I want seen; poverty, racism, sexism and trauma. I want to put into words concepts that I struggle with on a personal level that are also concepts that exist on a broader human level. After hearing me perform or reading something I write, I want people to celebrate what is good but under-appreciated and I want people to think about the way they think and question what they value. It seems like I want to do a lot with just a few poems but, words are powerful…”

She paints vivid pictures. Her words are addictive, compelling. The soundtracks to them give them a kind of filmic quality, like the narrator to a scene you’re not watching on TV, but in your head.

Not all the pictures are pleasant, “You can’t call me nigga because you don’t believe in black angels and you haven’t accepted the fact that a blonde, blue eyed Jesus would have died in the desert … You can’t call me nigga because the word is my name for brother and we ain’t cool like that”

But the opening track, Dangerous Women is a witty, pithy portrait of Tenesha’s daughter: “I fed her raw meat and truth, encouraged her to pick her teeth with small minds and I don’t even mind if she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand”

There’s a humour going on in here, even though the subject matter is serious and not always an easy listen.

But unless you actually are Tenesha, then you will learn from her words, her style and her soft voice that can deliver a punch from the other side of the world. – Peter Goodbody

Wear Your Wounds: Rust on the Gates of Heaven
Death Wish Inc.

Leader of hardcore godfathers, Converge, Jacob Bannon returns to his mellower side with his Wear Your Wounds project, releasing the second album which follows 2017’s WYW in Rust on the Gates of Heaven.

Whilst joined by an array of talent that has skipped around the alternative metal pantheon for some years (Mike McKenzie – The Red Chord, Adam McGrathCave In, Sean MartinTwitching Tongues, and Chris MaggioTrap Them), one would mistaken Wear Your Wounds as some sort of extension to all things metal.

All told, Wear Your Wounds have more in common with Mogwai and Crippled Black Phoenix as opposed to their alt-metal contemporaries.

Rust on the Gates of Heaven is flooded with atmospheric slowcore jams filled with grief and album opener, Mercifully, is a piano-laden dirge that sets the trend for the album.

The title track follows and finds us engaged with Bannon’s morose, ghoulish almost spoken-word delivery, backed by echoing riffs that swirl around the abyss and tender pianos which feature prominently throughout  the album’s 11 tracks.

Tomorrow’s Sorrow captures our first encounter with Bannon‘s poetic lyrics.

Life is the casualty to its own weight/Causality is what determines fate/Praying for answers and sending good thoughts/Does not give back a piece of what’s lost/Pretend gods blush at the mere thought/That there is something just past the top rung/As desperate ladders sprout from the ground. The weeds and the flowers are the same to the sun.”

With its lyrics and well-crafted instrumentation, you wouldn’t think a song would surpass the quality of Tomorrow’s Sorrow. But…

Truth is a Lonely Word is a splendid slow-motion riff-riding jam, while Rainbow Fades is an ethereal rocker that oddly descends into a maelstrom of noise that post-metal titans, ISIS, would have almost held a candle to.

Then there’s Love In Peril with the opening line of “Have you ever felt such blinding love/the kind that lifts your feet right off the ground“. Along with following track Lurking Shadow, this is the most gentle moment on the album and Bannon at his most candid.

With brings us to the pinnacle of the album. Shrinking Violet. Perhaps one of the greatest songs Bannon has produced, including his era-defining output with Converge. This epic track scrapes against the edge of the world and roars prominently, all amid atmospheric riffs and storms of strings.

Closing the album, Mercilessly starts off with a similar arrangement to the opening track, only to transform into a sludgey post-rock hymn that could be heard at the gates of heaven. It’s a fitting way to end the album.

Rust on the Gates of Heaven is an elegiac affair, packed with rich strings, aching poeticism and brooding eyes-to-the-sky riff-a-rola.

It drips with melody that will melt your heart, each instrument finding itself in the relevant pockets of space to work and utilise to maximum effect. Nothing feels forced or overdone here and for that Bannon must take great credit for producing the album the way he has.

Rust on the Gates of Heaven is without doubt the most heartfelt metal release of 2019. – Simon Kirk