Albums Club #45: Porridge Radio, The Lovely Eggs, Sorry, The Chats, Baxter Dury and more

0

Getintothis Albums Club April 2020

U.S. Girls, Zebra Katz, Maserati and The Weeknd all feature in this month’s new releases as Getintothis’ Simon Kirk tries to make sense of life as we know it amid Covid-19.

How things have changed. For everyone.

We could talk about live music and artists being crippled by the current Covid-19 pandemic.

We could talk about people on zero hour contracts with no long-term job security. Months away from financial destitution.

We could talk about the selfless work nurses, doctors and other support staff in our NHS are undertaking.

We could talk about teachers helping vulnerable children. Workers, at supermarkets and independent grocery outlets making sure our communities are safe and comfortable as they can possibly be.

Selfless acts during days that continue to bleed into each other.

These people. Well, they are fucking heroes, if truth be told.

Given the current circumstances, it’s hard to choose the right words without sounding trite, glib, or – quite frankly – like a gobshite. But our thoughts are with those mentioned above.

Our thoughts are with everyone, really. Including you.

This pandemic is affecting everyone in different ways. It’s a screaming shit storm and hopefully, collectively, we have a big enough umbrella to fend it away.

In the eye of a storm, cultural refuges like Getintothis can either thrive or sink. We’re trying. It’s hard, but we realise that people need escapism and we’re doing our best to keep doing what we do.

They say the album has been on the wane for quite some time but amid the chaos we currently find ourselves enveloped in, in some perverse kind of way, that notion may have just come full circle.

While many of you will be self-isolating with family and loved ones there are many of us out here that are battening down the hatches on our own. We know you’re out there too, and it’s okay. Our message is this.

Be with music.

Or try to be as best you can. It’s vital. It acts as a mechanism to quell anxiety and loneliness. Just to escape, for a while at least.

We hope you’re finding some form comfort but for most of us on here at Getintothis, it’s music.

And with that, we hope some of the new releases below will be welcomed into your new world of self-isolation and help ease the burden.

Be safe and hold your loved ones more than ever. – Simon Kirk

The triumphant return of Cornershop and why we need them more than ever

Album of the Month

Porridge Radio: Every Bad
Secretly Canadian

Porridge Radio’s sophomore album, Every Bad, sees the band become more assured and focused than their debut Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers.

Channelling 90s shoegaze, American noise-rock and PJ Harvey, Every Bad begins with the brazen line “I’m bored to death let’s argue”, Dana Margolin’s voice bouncing between uninterested and on the verge of a breakdown which it does across the album.

Margolin knows how to use her voice to great effect turning saccharine phrases into snarling put-downs and insults into affectionate turns. Album opener, Born Confused, ends with shrieks of “Thank you for making me happy” at first sarcastic but ending in a cry of affection as she continues to howl the line.

Biggest track on the album, Sweet, is a Pixies-esque track with it’s loud-quiet dynamic as tender guitars are broken up with interruptions of crashing instruments as Margolin switches between Jerkyl and Hyde with her vocals, but it’s the softly sung lyrics that feel more laced with malice than the guttural howls, “I am charming, I am sweet, she will love me when she meets me”. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Long sees Porridge Radio veer off in another direction, a more synth-driven track that shows that they can mix it up when required. The loud-quiet dynamic is replaced for a more introspective feel, Margolin’s voice is full of resignation and regret.

Every Bad feels like working your way through an existential crisis that most twenty-somethings go through, there’s the rage, the anxiety and terror of feeling inadequate, you’re meant to be grown up now and you have responsibilities you’re struggling to deal with it or as Margolin puts it, “you’re dwelling again you’re an unconscious mess”.

Case and point halfway through the album is Pop Song. It’s mournful introduction rings like a funeral procession while the melancholic guitar gently sweeps along behind.

Pop Song echoes of the end of a night out, “oh won’t you take me home, I’ve got nowhere to be, I’m lonely”. We’ve all been there, you’re lonely, depressed, too drunk and you just want to crawl into bed with someone, anyone, you both know how ephemeral it’ll be but right now it’s exactly what you need, “please make me feel safe”.

While Give/Take sums up how quickly your emotions and mood can quickly shift and change, “I like you and you like me, but I’ve got other things that make me happy”. Another of the album’s big hits, it chimes like Smashing Pumpkins1979 with its steady guitar line while Margolin questions “how do I say no without sounding like a little bitch?”

The refrains of “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck’ and I’m kind, I’m kind, I’m kind” in Lilac shows someone stuck in a failing relationship, they’re trapped in a loop and but ‘wants us to get better, want us to be kinder to ourselves and to each other’.

By the time Every Bad comes to a close it feels like we’ve gone through the emotional ringer with Dana Margolin, it’s been a cathartic process but with solid tunes and honest songwriting you emerge from the other side feeling all the better for going on this ride with Margolin and Co. – Michael Maloney

Beach Bunny: Honeymoon
Mom + Pop Music

Beach Bunny is a project helmed by Chicago songwriter Lili Trifilio. They first came to our attention with the release of the single Promqueen in 2018 which made an immediate impression, driving emotional pop music that evokes Best Coast and shimmering 1980’s indie.

Here on their debut album, they take the same formula up another level. Ruminations on heartbreak are timeless themes and these are break up songs minus self-pity and a big sense of optimism.

Album opener Promises is the perfect showcase for Trifilio’s heart on sleeve songwriting.  Slight keyboards give way to fuzzed-up guitars and four to the floor drums which channels the spirit of Angel Olsen.

There’s not much wasted here at all. April is all summery guitar lines with an affectingly heartsick tune. Lots of the lyrics acknowledge vulnerabilities without wallowing in negativity.

Although maybe on Ms California it does come close, with a bittersweet lyrical thread of how “she sleeps in your t-shirts”. This though is balanced with a belting chorus and big power pop chords.

There are a few more intimate moments, the low key RaceTrack with warm keyboards and vocals and a real sense of emotional honesty is a highlight.

From here though the rest of the album gets back to what seems to be their core ethos. The pace never really relents and the rest of the tracks continue to provide a heady crystalline pop rush.

There have been quite a few acts over the last five years that have taken sunkissed surf pop music and early nineties fuzz and wrapped it up in lyrics that ponder emotional anguish but as an album, this seems to nail all of this pretty well.

What also impresses is that as an album it never overstays its welcome. After twenty-five minutes it’s all over. Nothing wrong with a bit of brevity. The Simpsons managed to take you on a journey, ask some questions of your protagonists and get wrapped up in the same time.

That was pretty good too. – Si Jones

Unknown Pleasures #206 ft Hallan, MEMES, Legss

J Balvin: Colores
Universal Music Latino

“You already know Balvin, now meet José” opens Colores, the latest album from the first lad of reggaeton, J Balvin. Of course, you know Balvin, his flamingo crop and towering trainers are stamped across just about every song in the charts.

But please forget that Balvin. This one wants you to know he’s more than just a body for hire. Besides a co-credit or two, this is emphatically a solo vision, each track representing a different colour – colour being such a big part of Balvin’s personal brand already. It’s also a nod to his hometown Medellín, a vibrant Colombian city emerging from the shadows of its past.

Besides being one of its biggest names, J Balvin is also reggaeton’s biggest fanboy. No record of his would be complete without lusty moans and shout-outs to Daddy Yankee. But as well as celebrating the soundtrack of his teen years, he’s big on novelty, hoovering up dembow, trap and R&B influences and stirring them into the soup.

All the usual suspects are here: parties ’til dawn, sipping aguardiente with women in bikinis (the bikinis are non-negotiable), forgetting what you did the night before. But J Balvin has always been open about his demons, and even with hedonism at high tide, there’s usually a darker subtext. Desire is torture, gratification is a slightly nicer form of torture, but ultimately there’s a risk of getting seasick even as you sip champagne on a yacht.

Blanco is a prowling public notice to reassure us he’s still got money and beats to burn. Rojo is, reliably, about desire, but this time from beyond the grave (watch the video for his bloodied take on Ghost).

Three or four songs are about women who are kind of evil (translation: sexy). And at just 28 minutes, the record itself is lean enough to feel at home on any beach.

With someone as prolific as J Balvin, it’s inevitable that certain hits he appears on feel throwaway, each muttered “leggo” giving some no-mark a leg-up. But Colores is a fully realised, insatiable prism of a record, winking through really impractical tiny sunglasses, dancing perreo til sunrise. Don’t check your watch, this might be the closest you get to a party for some time. – Orla Foster

Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Mmm… Records

Four-piece North London band Bombay Bicycle Club comprises of singer, guitarist, keyboard player, frontman Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie McColl (you may already be familiar with his aunt Kirsty!), Suren de Suram on drums and Ed Nash on bass.

They have been producing an experimental blend of folk, indie rock and electronica since 2005. Between 2009 and 2014 they released four studio albums on their own label “Mmm…” largely to critical acclaim including an NME Best New Band award and an Ivor Novello nomination.

BBC finished 2014 with the final leg of their tour becoming the very last event at Earl’s Court Arena before it’s demolition. After a short break in 2015, they announced in early 2016 that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus and each began pursuing solo projects. The writing was on the wall for the band to go the same way as their Indian restaurant chain namesake and they even sold all their equipment. Much to the surprise and delight of their fans, BBC announced their reformation in early 2019.

In August of last year their single Eat, Sleep, Wake (nothing but you) was well received and earlier this year they released their fifth studio album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong which immediately hit the UK’s number one album spot.

Steadman’s melodic folksy/indie vocals float effortlessly over an ever-changing landscape of rhythmic indie-rock guitar riffs, uplifting keyboards, syncopated drum beats and crashing symbols. Sonically the recipe jumps around a little from one track to the next sometimes with a little too much competing for your attention.

There are elements of Foals, Vampire Weekend and perhaps even a sprinkle of MGMT but the sound remains uniquely BBC.

Get Up starts the album off making you want more slowly building synthesised brass, harmonized vocals and bassy distorted indie guitar licks. A solid start to pique your interest in the rest of the album but with little to offer as a stand-alone track.

Is It Real picks up the pace with an uplifting slightly pop-oriented feel to it with a catchy clean guitar riff and sing-along vocals.

Title track Everything Else Has Gone Wrong” is the second single. Bringing more gravitas than the previous track and powerfully uplifting, this is one of the stronger tracks and lets you know that BBC have still got “it”.

I Can Hardly Speak has a good hook in the form of the marching drum beat and catchy synth lines. Unfortunately, like Do You Feel Loved? and I Worry About You, it falls a little short of originality and emotional impact.

Good Day is lyrically the strongest track on offer speaking to the millennial experience with phrases like “I would quit my job if I had a job” and “I just wanna have a good day and it’s only me that’s standing in my way”.

Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) the first single from the album released last year. A solid indie sound with a good beat and a relatable message. Whilst it doesn’t deserve the “skip” button, neither does it really provoke the urge to crank up the volume.

The drums and synths on Let You Go attempt to build and lift the track as it progresses but the whole thing feels a little messy and unbalanced with too much competing for your attention.

The album closes with Racing Stripes and like the opener, Get Up, we don’t mind this track in the context of bookending a full album play-through as it serves to ease you gently out of the album and leave you feeling relaxed and contemplative. As a stand-alone track, however, it bumbles along rather meekly and is a surprising choice as the third single release.

The band have described the intention of the album as being “… about the comfort that music can provide in times of need. Hopefully, this record can give you that escape should you ever need it.”

We are inclined to agree and whilst they may not have quite yet reached their old peak form of Always Like This or Shuffle, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong definitely has its moments and it feels good to have the boys from BBC back together again. – Paul Dulac

The Boomtown Rats: Citizens of Boomtown
BMG

It’s probably deeply unfashionable to like The Boomtown Rats, these days. The band that wanted to be punk, but never quite got the message. In the Chinese year of the rat, maybe this seemed like a good idea to get most of the band back together to mark their 36 year hiatus.

It may have seemed like a good idea, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. No band can ever re-capture the rage and energy of their teenage years and The Boomtown Rats are no different.

Opener, Trash Glam Baby, isn’t a bad stab at it, but it stands out only for that reason. Sweet Thing has a Mary of the Forth Form air about it, and both songs are unsettling themes in this climate.

Monster Monkeys is trying to be Ian Brown and fails spectacularly. Leave the Roses style funk to the man who knows how to do it.

She Said No is a decent piece of blues music, but, again the theme is poor and the lyrics are appalling: “She said, We need to talk, So I put her on the speaker-phone and let her squawk” and “I said, The answer to our problem lies between my legs, I don’t think she got that joke when she screamed No!”

Passing Through is only worth passing through. It’s just rubbish, shmaltzy shit. Yeah, we know that’s hardly erudite song reviewing, but there really is little more to be said about it. It’s a dog of a tune.

There’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Yé Yé, which is a fair Bon Jovi impression. But, Geldof was supposed to be a punk back in the day. But, where’s the aggression? Where’s the fight.

Get a Grip sounds like a 70s disco New York number. Got your flares on? Has Geldof just run out of ideas? And then it just fades out, as though the band can’t really be arsed thinking of something better to do with this dog of a tune.

And then there’s the final act of shame “The Boomtown Rats”. Yes, they called a song after the name of the band.

It’s another disco miss and would have been much better left to a band who know how to disco. This too also just fades away. John Peel would be turning in his grave. He hated songs that simply faded out – always saying it simply showed the band had no idea how to finish the number. It feels like The Boomtown Rats had no idea how to finish the album. They started with a couple of ideas and made a whole album out of them. You really need more.

So, we’re effectively left with the opening pair of Trash Glam Baby and Sweet Thing that do sound a bit like classic ‘Rats. But that’s about it. And, songs about teenage girls aren’t really on. As for She Said No, well, we’re not sure where to go. We’ll just say “No”. – Peter Goodbody

New album releases this week: The Chats, Waxahatchee, Sorry, The Orb and more

Anna Calvi: Hunted
Domino Recording Co.

The hunting continues. Having delighted listeners and audiences with the captivating energy of her third album, Hunter, London’s guitar hero Anna Calvi has double down in the concept with the other side of the coin.

While promoting Hunter, Calvi talked about the idea of not only hunting but also being hunted, in an exciting two-sided game of power, control and sex. It wasn’t a huge surprise, then, when she announced Hunted, a collection of seven of the ten tracks from the previous record, re-imagined with the help of some famous guests.

If Hunter was the alpha yang explosion of desire and conquest, Hunted sounds exactly the opposite. Without drums and using more atmospheric and softer guitars, Anna Calvi places her yin, feminine side to the fore, creating a seductive, gentle environment that invites, caresses and welcomes the listener.

The collaborations are part of the whole concept. A true “hunted” experience requires openness to others, so Calvi must have felt that she could not record the opposite of Hunter without other artists in it.

The songs’ order does not repeat the one on Hunter – the hunted doesn’t behave like the hunter. So Julia Holter lends her vocals to the opening track, Swimming Pool, while later on Charlotte Gainsbourg whispers beautifully on Eden, the most alluring songs of the album.

For Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy, it’s Courtney Barnett‘s turn, and the result is a wonderful bluesy, campfire version where there’s no place for the highest notes Anna Calvi reached in the original version.

Somewhat surprising is the participation of Idles on Wish. The presence of male vocals seems to show that masculine and feminine go hand in hand in all of us, and it’s up to us to explore them in whatever manner we choose.

The three Hunter tracks left out of the project – As A Man, Alpha and Chain – were probably too masculine for Hunted, although the same could be said about Indies or Paradise, which closes the album.

This is where Calvi’s guitar sounds the loudest in the whole record. Despite the absence of drums, the tune is still visceral, which is possibly the message that Anna Calvi wants us to leave with. In this exquisite by-product experience, she allowed herself to be softer, but that doesn’t mean her powers and her sound have weakened.

Even when hunted, Anna Calvi is still a hungry, merciless hunter. – Rogerio Simoes

 

The Chats: High Risk Behaviour
Bargain Bin Records

The Chats are a rare hotly-tipped export from Australia, making waves due to some famous fans, including Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and Iggy Pop, all of whom fell in love with their early Smoko single.

And yet here we find The Chats releasing their debut album whilst inexplicably leaving off the song that found them that initial fame.

A move of utter self-confidence, but that’s something that is in plentiful supply on this album.

The band members take to this task sounding like this means the world to them, it’s been their life ambition, it’s a record full of gusto.

It’s made up of 14 short sharp shocks, no song outstaying its welcome, half of which don’t even make it to the two-minute mark.

Over a guitar riff that changes ever so slightly on each song, with lyrics always telling some sort of simple story, this is not a record that has had months of loving care taken over it. Rather it sounds like they’re making it up as they go along, using the first idea that pops into their head.

There are no layers, no building or changing of mood or pace at work here. But the important thing is that they sound like they’re having a whale of a time.

Such themes include running away from the bill at restaurants (Dine N Dash), having an infectious disease (The Clap), eating pub food (Pub Feed), by now I’m guessing you get the picture.

I’ve stood in puddles that have not been as shallow as this collection, and yet it is its simplicity that adds to the joy of it all.

They leave the best until last, and the closer Better Than You shows the merest speck of a maturer nature lurking behind the simplicity and bodes well going forward.

It’s all over in half an hour and will not leave any lasting effect, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts, and isn’t that how it should be, especially in these strange days. – Steven Doherty

The Top 10 spirit-lifting, mood-boosting queer anthems to get you through quarantine

Circa Waves: Sad Happy
Prolifica Inc

Following the release of Happy in January this year, Circa Waves released the second installation of their now completed double album, Sad Happy.

There doesn’t seem to be a much more appropriate time to release the new two-part album, commenting on conflicting emotions and the understanding that being both happy and sad can coincide. It’s an interesting concept from the Liverpool based four-piece and something that may help define them from the similarities of the indie-pop genre.

Happy, the original release is comprised of the familiar up-tempo, indie-pop sounds that Circa Waves are known and loved for. Featuring the catchy first single Jacqueline, the first half of the double album could easily be the soundtrack to summer, it belongs on a festival stage.

Sad is the newest addition to the double album, being released earlier this month. On a first listen you might be forgiven for thinking the second addition to the double album is just as upbeat as the first, however, a closer listen uncovers darker, more personal lyrics alongside a more experimental sound.

This side to the album features a 1 minute 46 instrumental titled Train to Lime Street, that has been described as both calming and eerie, a paradox that may well have summed up the aim of the entire album.

Happy and Sad are both great stand-alone releases, but what makes them even better is how they come together to form one body of work.

Circa Waves have tried hard to create a unique sound outside of their notable influences, with regular comparisons being made to the likes Foals and The Strokes.

Circa Waves might not be touring with this new release as swiftly as they might like to be, but there may not have been a better time to remind listeners that life is made up of messy, conflicting emotions, and not only is that okay, but if it’s anything like this album,  it can also turn out pretty great. – Abi Moss-Coomes

Jonathan WilsonDixie Blur
Bella Union

Sometimes you have to go way back in time to find your true current soul.

Jonathan Wilson’s fourth album Dixie Blur has seen the singer-songwriter, come multi-instrumentalist step back deep into his roots by returning to his native Thomasville, North Carolina after a two-decade absence from current surrounds of LA.

After what seemed like an everlasting tour of his previous release, 2018’s Rare Birds, in both delivery form of acoustic solo gigs, and also with the glorifying prowess of a full backing band, this album finds Wilson in a much more profoundly intimate environment, recorded and co-produced with Wilco’s Pat Sansone.

In a poignant point in history when most if the world is confined to homebound quarantine the release is this nostalgic trip is both appropriately beautiful, yet deeply melancholic in abundance.

The album highlight comes in the form of the elegantly written self-reflective track 69 Corvette, a beautiful video of the song sees Wilson’s home video reel through yesteryear’s family gatherings, sports days, high school band highlights, amongst other treasured memories.

But with lyrics such, “I still think of Carolina sometimes, I miss my family, I miss that feeling, I miss home”, and “..it floats right by till one day you’re looking at polaroids and grieving, so remember to tell ’em you love ’em every time”, it’s enough to tug on even the most hardened of heartstrings.

Other notable tracks include album closer Korean Tea and Enemies, both wrapped in gorgeous harmonies full of gypsy soulful blues, with spirit searching lyrics that ebb and flow through every emotion as the album transpires.

What Wilson has achieved with this record is a complete seamless shift in style from the more psychedelic ballad exuding Rare Birds into this Americana delight.

It really is a truly lovely piece of work at a time when solace is desired and appreciated in all form of art. –
Kevin Barrett

Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
Warners

It is times like these, that often solace can be found in records, books, films and the like – and I’ve no doubt that in ten years time we will be looking back at this dark chapter in the human story, having overcome it, with memories, of course, stirred up by the sounds of the time.

And is there perhaps no other female artist on the scene right now, who epitomises that punchy dance-pop sound of the last few years toward the turn of the decade, other than Dua Lipa? So how apt perhaps, that her second album is entitled Future Nostalgia, as she lays claim to further cement her position as one of the most influential artists of her generation.

The millennial daughter of Kosovan parents may have been somewhat manufactured from the off, with her publicist father and Sylvia Young training, but her sound has connected the world over.

With her self titled 2017 debut album going platinum in no less than 5 countries, 3 years seemed a somewhat unexpectedly long wait between albums. But well-timed releases and collaborations, particularly aimed at the dancefloor, saw her pick up a string of gongs including a few Brits and Grammys.

She has been working on this album for a while – since 2018 – and it shows; it’s well polished, it’s consistently rambunctious and it flows well.

The self-titled opening track sets the tone, with her familiar upbeat and empowering lyrics, I can’t help but feel this track is more of a message that she isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon in the industry, the confidence oozes out of the beat.

Tove Lo’s influence on the third track is subtle but it’s there, complimenting Dua’s pizazz. At this point, it’s becoming clear that throughout the record we will be reminded not just of the artiste and her vocals, but also her attitude as she lets the manufactured image slip and speaks her mind.

Picking up the pace and we’re moving onto the main event and Physical was unmissable when it was released earlier in the year and for good reason. It is probably one of the defining tracks of the album and really showcases Dua Lipa’s electrifying pop sound.

I love a good sample (who doesn’t?) so hearing the haunting hook of White Town’s I Will Never Be Your Woman, I was very interested to see where the track went, and with the help of Liverpool’s own Chelcee Grimes, Love Again makes that poignant impact the sample’s original song did, effortlessly.

Break My Heart follows on and whilst the titles may not inspire, there’s a maturity developing in her lyrics, that sense of empowerment she gives her fans, she’s refining it, she’s taken us on a journey with this album and towards the end of the record, it feels like it comes to a natural end.

Those who call Dua Lipa and her style nu-disco may just be a little too off the mark for my liking/ There’s nothing disco about the closing ballad, Boys Will Be Boys – it’s pop and it’s damn good pop.

Indeed Boys may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and neither may this album or genre, but it is indeed definitely ‘of our times’ and it is of a calibre that will pass it through the times.

There’s none of that second album ‘off the beaten track’ malarkey here, no artistic deviation, it’s just plenty more of what she’s good at.

And she is good at it. It’s a very easy listen and feels over a little too quick perhaps, at just over 37 minutes, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, as they say, perhaps she has nailed the balance just right. Big, loud, dance-pop bangers, with a sprinkling of empathy and angsty girl power ballads – now take my money!

Dua Lipa was due to play the M & S Bank Arena on May 29th, the day before the Champions League final – with support from the BOSS Night lads – but that date has now been rescheduled to Jan 2021.

In the meantime get your Dua Lipa fix from Future Nostalgia. – Sean Weaver

Baxter Dury: The Night Chancers
Heavenly

Six albums in and the mutant messenger that is Baxter Dury returns with his latest musings, The Night Chancers.

Dury’s stock has risen considerably during the last five years – most notably with his last album, 2017’s Prince of Tears, which drew acclaim beyond his seemingly second refuge in France – right here in ol’ Blighty.

Prior to Prince of Tears, the son of Ian Dury made tremendous waves along with French Rivera with his 2014 oeuvre, It’s A Pleasure. It was well overdue adulation.

With The Night Chancers, things seem a bit different. Like Dury has had his taste of fame and considered retreating into the shadows.

It’s no bad thing.

Dury still adopts that male-female Gainsbourg-like crossover quality which has served him well since It’s A Pleasure. Here though, he chooses a backdrop of soundscapes where he has turned down the dial on the playful funk aesthetic and instead nurtured it in more subtle bursts alongside shiny rich textures. There’s no better example of this than during Samurai.

Dury has always been a skittish chameleon. A quick in-and-out merchant, knowing that his current artistic default settings can only hold an audience for so long. He’s always been smart enough not to outstay his welcome.

On The Night Chancers, there’s an air of contemplation. A loose concept album, even, ducking and weaving between lust and love, arriving in that ever-present grey area. Overall, the mood isn’t a world away from his stunning sophomore album, Floor Show.

Where Floor Show was a younger Dury recounting the debaucherous tales of his youth through pleasure-seeking protagonists, here he is reflecting on loss and heartbreak but with a new sardonic edge with mordant cynicism festering underneath.

The opening number, I’m Not Your Dog, does indeed have the bite of a hound that’s wary of anyone but its owner. The motorik keys and minimal guitar reverb with subtle inflections of funk give off an air of darkness.

“I’m not your fuckin’ friend/Tryin’ to be though/Tryin’ to feel it/Tryin to be it” he starts. “But I’ve been following you everywhere/Some people like to show/Some people like watching/ And I watch a bit too much/But you show too much.”
 
These murky missives set the scene for what’s to come.

So downcast, some of the tracks you could almost imagine being a Sleaford Mods song, particular Slumlord. Dury and Jason Williamson have struck up a blossoming friendship over the years and, notwithstanding the latter’s appearance on Almond Milk, this is the first time the Mods‘ influence can be distinctly heard seeping into Dury‘s repertoire.

“Charm dripping like honey/I’m the Milky Bar Kid/Soiled trousers/Shiny cheekbones like graveyards in the sun.”

It’s the closest thing Dury finds to his much-lauded single from 2017’s Prince of Tears, the mind-bending acrobatic tour-de-force in Miami.

Moving on and there’s a familiar terrain Dury takes us on, for this character seems to display an uncanny resemblance to past ghosts of the Baxter Dury broad-church. This time it’s Carla and she’s got a new boyfriend.

In fine form, Carla’s Got A Boyfriend finds Dury pulling the piss out of the said man’s ill-fitting trousers, dickhead haircut and messy facial foliage after spending too much time scrolling through the bloke’s Instagram account. There are sour grapes and Dury thrives on the taste.

“Carla’s got a problem/Carla’s got a boyfriend/That looks like me.”

It has a parallel unsettling quality to that of Prince of Tears’ Oi.

The rich orchestra traipse and hip-hop beats during the album’s title track see Dury reaching for the dusty crates of his youth.

“You left me with the crumbs of my spare thoughts/You left me with the noise of the night chancers/ Good cheer to the wee hours.”

Daylight is an open letter of lost love. Dury hasn’t laid it on the line like this before, seemingly at the ends of the earth in a spill-it-all lament. The track’s fade-out riff could well be as good as Roy Bittan‘s piano solo on Bruce Springsteen‘s Stolen Car. We’ll find the definitive answer with more time spent in its company.

Say Nothing culminates the anxious misery that envelops The Night Chancers. Perhaps with Dury‘s most despondent verse yet.

“And I lie down and let the cars run over my lifeless body/Each wheel represents pain/For all of us.”

The last chorus of words projected by Dury‘s often equal foul-mouthed female companion – “Baxter loves you/ Baxter loves you.”

The Night Chancers is a slow burn. Dury has always produced music of this quality and that’s why his fellow Britons have always found his music hard to pierce. The French know the score, though. Had Dury been born there then there’s little doubt he’d be heralded as a national treasure.

The durability of Dury’s song-craft will outlast many of his other contemporaries. Not that he has that many given his unique form of sneering satire. The man stands alone and sometimes that’s the best way. Simon Kirk

Baxter Dury- a unique artist transcending mere cult status

G H O S T S: An Ending
In the Flat Field

Considering that 2020 is a little bit more dystopic than we bargained for, you’ve got even more reason to partake in a little aural escapism.

Hit play on the debut album An Ending from Alt Industrial Rock newcomers G H O S T S and delve into the angsty blackened catharsis which viscerally invokes 90s Alt Rock & 80s Gothic Rock nostalgia.

The Birmingham-based four-piece fronted by the contemporary savant of Gothic apathy Richard Watson has broken the mould with their bleakly resonant sound and poignantly reflective lyricism.

Finding Gothically-inclined tracks void of depressively saccharine lyrical clichés is no easy feat. Yet Watson proves his mastery of a fretboard is only matched by his command of indulgently obscure dark metaphors.

G H O S T S may draw influence from the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails, but ultimately, it’s intrinsic emotion which drives the sound. Each track is a different facet of discontent and disintegration. There’s a myriad of switch-ups in tone, momentum and style, but remaining constant is the weight of the vehemence.

The tracklist has been deftly curated leaving biting earworms to follow on from intricately cinematic soundscapes, which makes it impossible to give preference to any of the tracks.

How do you choose between sombrely absorbing yet caustically cutting tracks such as Oblivion in Her Smile and rhythmically magnetic anthemic tracks such as The Loop?

You don’t, you allow each soundscape to piece together like a perfect jigsaw of dark disillusionment. – Amelia Vandergast

Human Impact: Human Impact
Ipecac Recordings

Human Impact are the newly established supergroup featuring Chris Spencer (Unsane), Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop), Chris Pravdica (Swans) and Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop/Swans). Signing to Ipecac Recordings late last year, they release their eponymous debut album.

On the eve of the release of Human Impact, much hype surrounded the four-piece with the New York Times claiming “This supergroup’s line-up represents the fulfilment of a noise rock fan’s most fervent wish…”

And they weren’t far wrong, for this is indeed the kick up the arse that noise-rock in 2020 needs.

Human Impact deals very well in the no-fucking-around department, opening up with the war-torn chaos that is November. The track leans on that Swans-inspired drone with a guitar swing reminiscent of Mike Patton‘s Tomahawk project.

E605, Protestor, Relax and Unstable are each a lethal concoction of hell-fire with echoes of Big Black and a backdrop drenched in futuristic Philip K. Dick-inspired tones and rib-tickling chords.

Portrait continues the barrage. The track a comet-exploding tribal-rock assault right out of the playbook of new-era Swans. Respirator follows the Gira homage with prickly undercurrents of sound that simmer then spit raw fury.

Although a contrast to its siblings, Cause feels like the centrepiece to the album. A morose proto-rock offering that drones and howls from the bellows of existence, while Consequences puts the nail well and truly in the coffin to a proposed Jesus Lizard reunion and new record. Yes, we don’t need either of them anymore.

The Dead Sea is a fitting finale, touching on the origins of hard-nosed noise-rock with bowel shuddering electronics and death-roll percussion. It’s a frenetic end to 41 minutes of a splintering interpretation of a musical community that found far too many imitators midway through last decade.

Human Impact revitalises things here, though, with intense, bonafide music that tiptoes on the razor wire.

It’s music rendered by a collective of seasoned campaigners who have participated in the school of hard knocks and you can feel the rawness with these songs. Somehow, each member has come together to form an organic bond and has present 10 bludgeoning ear-splitters worthy of anyone’s time.

Noise rock fan’s most fervent wish? Indeed. – Simon Kirk

Caribou’s new album Suddenly: A sense of familiarity amid the chaos

Leafblade: The Goddess Is With Child
Bandcamp

This city is known for many styles of contemporary music. Many singer/songwriters, DJ’s and Garage Rock outfits call this part of the north-west home.

However, as readers of Ned Hassan‘s fantastic monthly column Dysgeusia for Getintothis will doubtless be aware many renowned metal acts are either based or hail from Liverpool. Another genre one may not associate with this part of the world is progressive folk.

Since their  2006 debut ep To The Moonlight Leafblade (who once counted ex Anathema founding member Daniel Cavanagh as a member of their lineup) have been flying the flag for this little known sub-genre.

Their third (and self-released) full-length effort The Goddess Is With Child is as epic as one would expect from any band who can be described in any way as prog.

Whilst the opening number Three Tree Hill opens with an ominous chord played on the Moog Taurus (a pedal-operated analogue synth) before becoming an acoustic folk number A Promise In The Sleep [Silent Night] tips over into metal riffage.

If you are into Pentangle, Blood Ceremony or Fairport Convention you will find something here that you will doubtless like. Also, if you enjoyed Wolf People at the last Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia you should definitely dive into this bands back catalogue.

In an ideal world, the artwork (by Warrington artist and DJ Antony Potts) would grace a double gatefold vinyl sleeve.

The same day this album came out the band also released a Covid Sessions 2020 ep which was recorded when the band were in isolation together in Wales. – Andy Sunley

Listen here

The Lovely Eggs: I Am Moron
Egg Records

It has been two years since The Lovely Eggs released their fifth album This Is England.

And while that album set a new, quietly raging benchmark for their acerbic punk wit, I Am Moron finds the band truly unleashing hell.

If This Is England was Frankie Boyle, I Am Moron is Jerry Sadowitz.

The Lancaster duo’s second straight album produced by regular Flaming Lips collaborator Dave Fridmann, should come with a pair of ear defenders such is it’s wall of stinging fuzz.

It’s rare to find a band that have been ploughing their own furrow for more than 13 years producing such firecrackers as This Decision, Bear Pit and 24 Eyes yet I Am Moron finds the duo reborn with a new steely sense of purpose: vitriolic disdain against a country intent on losing its identity and a shit sack of a PM revelling in alienation and distrust.

On the glam-punk stomp of Insect Repellent they’re kindred spirits to Sleaford Mods as singer and guitarist Holly Ross floors the Big Muff pedal while hissing: “Boy George, REPELLENT! Comfortable shoes, REPELLENT! Investment opportunities, REPELLENT! Luxury coleslaw, REPELLENT!”

You Can Go Now is a shopping list of big fuck-offs to the modern age – ‘magazine subscription, meditation, Anthea Turner’ – can all do one set to a soundtrack of dissonant post-punk, while The Digital Hair sees David Blackwell clattering the kit to the max as Holly rages, “the vicar’s a snitch, the pigeons eat chicken” in a sixty eight second rant riot.

When respite comes, and it does in a carefully considered tracklisting, it is served up with juicy eclecticism; You’ve Got The Balls is a quasi-Eastern lollop, The Mothership is a cast-adrift cosmic lullaby achingly asking to be left alone while closer New Dawn is a reflective mid-paced slice of psychedelia with hints of future hope.

But make no mistake, I Am Moron is a defiantly spicy record, an X-Rated satire soundtracking these grim end-of-days with a side-ways glance and dirty snigger. – Peter Guy

Maserati: Enter The Mirror
Temporary Residence

If ever a band lived up to their name it’s Maserati.

Luxurious, sleek and gloriously over the top, the band have for 20 years excelled in supercharged dynamism.

Returning with their first album since their 2015’s Rehumanizer, the quartet of Coley Dennis (guitar), Matt Cherry (guitar/synths), Chris McNeal (bass) and Mike Albanese (drums) continue their quest to make widescreen cinematic noise which is wildly unhinged yet stylish in the extreme.

Enter The Mirror is quite unlike anything you’re likely to hear in 2020 in that it’s rooted in an almost outdated ’80s extremism – colossal drum fills trade with manically warped keyboards – yet there are so many spellbinding grooves and outlandish hooks it’s anything but thrilling.

It’s that power-suited swaggering sadism expertly carried off by Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho complete with the chainsaw-wielding gratuity.

The appropriately named Killing Time serves to showcase the band’s visceral thrill as Albanese knocks the living shit out of his drum kit with X-Rated levels of brutality all the while heavily treated guitars soar like intergalactic battleships.

The killer final flourish sees meaty slabs of bass duelling with a fret-dancing Robert Fripp style solo.

This level of intensity is replicated throughout Enter The Mirror leading the listener on some kind of breathless chase.

Only on the introductory 2020, with its warm radiating ambience which softly bleeds into the robotic chug of A Warning In The Dark (imagine Kraftwerk jamming with Trans Am and you’re nearly there) does the pace settle into anything but top gear.

Der Honig is perhaps the pick of the bunch (though Enter The Mirror implores to be listened to as a complete whole) ramping up the bass amid a Klaus Dinger aping hyper-kinetic drum beat before a jarring brace of synths slice through the mix colliding with more filthy guitar licks.

In another set of hands, the entire mix could be quite monstrous – yet Maserati truly excels in this amphitheatre of abstract frenzy.

Somewhere in the mix are a list of collaborators including Alfredo Lapuz Jr (keys), Owen Lange and R.E.M. founding member and drummer Bill Berry – though amid the dystopian atmospherics it’s near impossible to know where.

Only on penultimate track does the din become to tire with Empty lacking the cohesion and focus of the remainder of the record.

Closer Wallwalker recovers the momentum with what is perhaps the greatest late-era Pink Floyd track David Gilmour never wrote.

With it’s bracing choral guitar effects and effervescent chrome sheen it’s the sound of a band hurtling at breakneck speeds into a white-hot cauldron of controlled chaos.

Ridiculous, rampant and really worth your time – Enter The Mirror, if you dare. – Peter Guy

Liverpool gig guide: rescheduled shows including Caribou, Lee Scratch Perry, Porridge Radio and more

 

Pure Reason Revolution: Eupnea
Inside Out Music

For a brief moment in the early 2000s, UK rock music embraced prog.

No excuses, no apologies and certainly no cloaks – a raft of bands picked up the baton from their forefathers King Crimson, YES and Genesis and ran with it.

For the most part bands such as AmplifierAereogramme, Hope Of The StatesAnd So I Watched You From Afar and the mighty Oceansize picked up the heavier end of the spectrum, melding the more extreme end of progressive rock – trading riffs and studio trickery with outrageous song structures much like their US counterparts The Mars Volta who broke the mould by crossing over becoming stadium titans.

Among the UK prog bunch were Reading heads Pure Reason Revolution who were unashamed Pink Floyd fans; their debut EP, the glorious The Bright Ambassadors of Morning EP taking its name from Floyd epic Echoes.

And while their debut album The Dark Third was a mini revelation which saw them tour with the likes of Mew, Porcupine Tree and Secret Machines, it’s fair to say they were little more than a cult band with a series of smart releases.

Ten years later, and ever more a cult concern, they’re back with Eupnea – a six-track album which harks right back to their early offerings and perhaps intriguingly as a duo with primary songwriter Jon Courtney joined by fellow founder Chloë Alper.

And it’s this new dynamic which courses throughout Eupnea – Courney’s overdriven guitar supersonics married to Alper‘s cosmic keyboards and an ever-present duel vocal trade-off.

There are just six tracks and they can be split into two types; the shorter poppier nuggets – see the beautific melodious Beyond Our Bodies (which work bizarrely work as a Kylie rock song in Ms Minogue‘s capable hands), the swooning piano-led Maelstrom and introductory electro-glam-rocker New Obsession. 

However, it’s on the longer, characteristically progressive tracks where Eupnea excels

The ten minutes Silent Genesis is as good as anything the band have ever written – in fact, perhaps their best offering to date.

Sure there are blatant nods to Pink Floyd with the band channelling their finest Live at Pompeii impression (see the midsection Rick Wright-esque organ breakdown lifted straight from that song Echoes once again ) however, they imbue enough of their own spirit and soul in the track so as not to descend into pastiche – and the result is nothing short of triumphant.

Ghosts & Typhoons, meanwhile, begins much in the manner of their poppier efforts with gentle piano melded to the duo’s intertwined vocals, before serrated guitars emerge through the mix with battering-ram percussion and a final third prog metal flourish which will have Tool or Porcupine Tree fans salivating at the mouth.

The 13-minute title track closes proceedings with a softer ambient introduction before bleeding into Rick Wakeman-meets-Anathema territory, all cyclical keyboards and choral vocals. When the inevitable big finish arrives it arrives like a hammer blow.

Pure Reason Revolution are anything but revolutionary – they’re a band out of time, and very much in love with their influences – but if you share a passion for all things prog, then Eupnea isn’t just the album for you, it’s an album of the year. – Peter Guy

Seafret: Most of Us are Strangers
Seafret

Four years in the making, since their debut album Give Me Something, and it appears it was worth the wait.

Seafret are back, with the highly anticipated album, Most of Us Are strangers.

After teasing the album through singles, the 12-track strong record was released in February, with the Bridlington duo doing what they do best – breath-taking love songs.

Kicking off the album with Most of Us Are Strangers’, they stick with their well-known sound; slow, yet leaving you wondering what’s to come next.

Second up, and what arguably might become their best tune yet, Be My Queen. A complete contrast to their usual style, except for the love-song lyrics. The standout of the album, beginning with almost a Foals-like sound, with Jack Sedman’s vocals loudly commanding your attention.

Their sound reverts back to their roots, with Why Do We Stay, Girl I Wish I Didn’t Know, and Loving You. If Kodaline was mixed with Vance Joy, this would be the outcome. Their modern, yet compelling love-songs make you stop and listen, with Sedman’s vocals and Harry Draper’s guitar taking centre stage in making a dreamlike combination.

Bringing out a new side to the duo, Magnetic comes halfway through the album, standing out from the rest. The introduction containing a fast beat, alongside quick, quiet vocals orders you to stop what you’re doing. Breaking into the chorus, they give you a taste of what else they’re capable of.

It’s not hard to see why the duo has gained popularity, with a 21-date tour currently underway, and an ever-growing following. If Most of Us Are Strangers is anything to go by, this could be their most career-defining year yet. – Danni King

Sorry: 925
Domino Recording Co.

London’s Sorry are a serious bunch of musicians, and having seen them live recently, it’s clear that ‘they mean it maan’, there was no room for audience banter, it’s all about the music.

And this record, 925, sounds meticulously planned to the nth degree.

No raggedy sounding edge to this debut album, it is one of the most polished, well-produced records of recent times.

Already touted as one of the most eagerly awaited records due to a great run of early singles, it’s a matter of whether the so far unheard material stacks up alongside it.

Starting with one of those singles, the flawless Right Round The Clock, which shows off their unashamed gift to cherry-pick from other well-known songs when it aids their own song, in this case, Mad World.

They are a truly intriguing band, and one that has a gloomy icy cold heart at their core, so those moments when they show some feelings and compassion, such as on the uplifting (well, for them) Heather, feel even more of a truly glorious moment.

The duelling vocals are a big selling point and they compliment themselves on the likes of the brooding Rosie and Wolf.

On Perfect, they show that they can do straightforward pop, whilst still keeping that overriding woozy feel that the record manages to maintain throughout.

The undoubted highlight comes halfway through in the form of the beautiful As The Sun Sets, which sees them again showing off their exquisite musical magpie skills with it’s hypnotic ‘borrowed’ “and I think to myself, what a wonderful world” closing refrain.

Sometimes some of the tracks sound like they’re losing their way because of their offbeat feel, but a lyrical twist or dark drumbeat will come along and get it back on track.

The already released stomper Rock and Roll Star, More and Starstruck fit in seamlessly to the overall rhythm of the album, arriving like the old friends that they have become already.

Probably a track or two too many to keep it totally focused and compact, but that’s a tiny criticism.

The word on the street was true, 925 is very much an early contender for 2020’s finest. – Steven Doherty

Svetlanas: Disco Sucks
Demons Run Amok

Coming in at 28 minutes for 10 songs, this one doesn’t mess about. Right from the opening salvo of Jump the manic firefly that is Olga Svetlanas pounces and gurns like her life depends on it.

We first encountered Svetlanas at Rebellion last year and their live act completely blew us away, such is the energy and lust for the live performance, we became instant fans. Olga’s stage presence and sheer exuberance is at a level we’ve rarely ever seen.

Disco Sucks is a proper punk masterpiece. Every track an anthem, not necessarily particularly original or groundbreaking. But that isn’t what the band is trying to do, anyway. Its an enjoyable romp, nothing more nothing less.

In some ways, Svetlanas are a band best consumed live, for the record doesn’t go anywhere near conveying the madness of the live shows. And for that reason, but that one, alone we’d have to knock a point off the star rating, were we to be giving one.

On the other hand, the way Olga can roll her Rs on songs such as Don’t Do It“I wanna fuck from the human rrrrrrrace” gets that star back.

The album closes with Never Sleep Again. Having seen Olga live on stage at the Empress Ballroom, as well as her activity on Facebook, we’d guess this is autobiographical. We can’t imagine she ever sleeps. It kind of sums up the whole album in one 3 minute shot (of tequila, probably). – Peter Goodbody

The WeekndAfter Hours
XO and Republic Records

With the success of his last album, 2016’s Starboy, which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard’s Canadian Album’s Chart, there has been murmurs of scepticism as to whether The Weeknd (real name Abel) could return to music and out-do his previous string of chart-toppers.

After four years out of the game (with the exception of his teasing 2018 EP, My Dear Melancholy), he has released his much-anticipated studio album After Hours – and it could be his most emotionally captivating and diverse album yet.

The 14 track collection reveals a some-what matured Abel, carrying a message of regret towards his treatment of his ex-girlfriend, as well as the occasional tune reminding us of his well-known erotic, lavish lifestyle. This contradiction is the perfect combination of the traditionally cool, reckless Abel we all know and love; and a reflective, remorseful and passionate Abel – with its fair share of songs that pull at the emotions’ heartstrings.

The album features a daring mix of 80’s electro-pop with new R&B and soul, it can be enjoyed in pleasant tracks Alone Again and In Your Eyes – with the latter featuring a saxophone solo, giving it a relaxing, calming quality.

It’s easy to see why this track is becoming increasingly popular as warmer days approach.

Back to the 80’s electro-pop/ R&B mix up – this dynamic merging of styles is most predominant and successful in the single Blinding Lights. There’s no wonder the track soared straight to number 1 in the UK charts. The rhythm is upbeat, catchy and unique, making it easily memorable.

There’s no holding back on crossing boundaries here, the track just radiates positive vibes, which is aesthetically pleasing. The vigorous electronics repeated through the chorus make it impossible to ignore the nostalgia this track projects – it’s a crowd-pleaser for all eras.

Songs Escape From LA and Heartless are both appealing and satisfying for day one fans, presenting to us The Weeknd persona that we recognise – the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” advocate. Lyrics such as “Cause when I’m on the liquor/I go crazy”,  “Got the money/Got the cars/Got the ceiling with the stars” and “All this money and this fame got me heartless” – reminds us that Abel is still the same rebellious, careless and above all wealthy star he was before.

Despite his attempt to instil this into his fans, however, the emotive tracks on the album beg to differ.

Perhaps one of the most honest and passionate songs on the album is, without a doubt, Hardest To Love. Whilst typically The Weeknd’s slower songs are made to deliberately arouse feelings of sensuality and romance (think Fifty Shades Of GreyEarned It), this track presents to us a raw and regretful Abel. The narrative follows a heartfelt breakup song, with Abel admitting that “I’ve been the hardest to love”. The song carries a message of remorse and provokes thought in anyone who might relate.

The star of the After Hours, however, is the title track.

To put it simply, it’s a piece of art, including all the attributes that make up a masterpiece in music. It’s suspenseful, original and experimental. With every listen there’s a sound, a vibration, an instrument that weren’t there before. The delicate vocals of Abel against the progressively intense harmony gives After Hours a euphoric synergy that isn’t common in contemporary music. This is empirical proof that no one makes music quite as unique as The Weeknd. The song is six minutes of chilling originality – one that needs to be listened to attentively to be appreciated.

Whilst a few tracks assure his fans he’s the same old Abel, the album as a whole hints at a new, matured outlook from the Canadian singer – his declaration “I don’t even wanna get high no more/I just want it out of my life’ in  Until I Bleed Out being highly suggestive.

After Hours is an album dedicated to deep experimentation, with an adventurous and successful blend of style and finesse alongside The Weeknd’s captivating vocals. – Sian Ellis

U.S. Girls: Heavy Light
4AD

It’s good to be free, even better a free artist in a world full of constraints imposed by lack of money, time, love, you name it. And that’s Meg Remy, the artist behind the U.S. Girls brand, a one-person project that seems limitless in its ambition.

Since she started releasing music, back in 2008, Remy has been an explorer. Her experimental first few albums, full of rage, noise and dark post-punk sonic provocations, were strong statements by someone seeking to find her place within the music scene. When that was finally achieved, after she signed with 4AD for the release of Half Free, in 2015, Remy seemed ready to exercise her new power in every possible way.

So with Heavy Light, the American’s new album, what we have is Remy as confident as ever, embracing the role of pop artist and unashamedly offering us some joy. She seems so secure of her current strength that the first track, the delicious disco tune 4 American Dollars, questions the very value of money.

“Numbers on a screen mean nothing to me / (…) I don’t believe in pennies and nickles / And dimes, and dollars and pesos and pounds”. U.S. Girls takes the front stage, says the right thing and grooves about it. Pure joy.

In Remy’s journey from fringe experimental artist to alternative pop, everything evolved: her writing, her music, her singing. U.S. Girls used to be one person exploring sounds, but on Heavy Light it is a reunion of 20 session musicians navigating through disco, funk and jazz – a formula initiated in 2018’s In a Poem Unlimited and now taken to a new level.

There’s a bit of Saint Etienne’s charm and Sarah Cracknell’s tease on Born to Lose. IOU and Denise, Don’t Wait show clear influence from Kate Bush, while the shake-your-ass attitude of Morcheeba’s more accessible moments is peppered throughout the record.

Such is U.S Girls’ jump into American disco and soul that in the middle of Woodstock ’99 Remy sings a bit of MacArthur Park, the Jimmy Webb song that became a disco classic with Donna Summer in 1978.

Over the years, U.S. Girls have gained recognition, reached new highs with Half Free and now that freedom is complete. Meg Remy can do whatever she wants – and whatever she chooses, she’ll do well. It must feel good to be her right now. – Rogerio Simoes

Worriers: You Or Someone You Know
6131 Records

A self-professed “expert over-thinker”, Lauren Denitzio of Worriers has plenty of material lately. Their third album is part breakup record, part meditation on these troubling times, as End of the World makes clear in its catalogue of fire and earthquakes. Your carefully laid plans are going to end up getting dismantled, Denitzio suggests, whether through natural disasters or ones that have been sworn in under oath.

There’s a lot being dismantled in this record. PWR CPLE is a bitter diatribe to a partner as the relationship crumbles around them. “I get it, you still hate it here,” Denitzio spits, with enough venom to make you squirm guiltily, like an eavesdropper sitting in the corner. Spite dissolves into remorse with Terrible Boyfriend, Denitzio admitting, “if we’re being honest, I was not cut out to take you”.

The self-appraisal continues into Chicago Style Pizza is Terrible, which is less a provocation (I don’t know if it’s true, and Frank Pinello isn’t here to ask) and more about recognising the low-key pleasures of being an introvert, passing up parties to lie quietly in the sun.

In true loner fashion, it sounds a little like Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, if you can banish bigot Morrissey from your mind for a minute and just remember the old one.

Lastly, Curious was inspired by a Scientology building near Denitzio’s home, which sparked the radical idea that there could be another way to live other than just . . . worrying. Wouldn’t it be easier to outsource your problems to a cult and swallow whatever solutions they cook up?

Denitzio recently moved to L.A., and admits that a certain sunny Californian optimism crept into the album even through its most despairing moments. Those bright melodies are a perfect counterpoint to the melancholy lyrics, like in any great pop-punk record.

You don’t need to go through a breakup right now to be climbing the walls and fearing for humanity. – Orla Foster

Zebra KatzLess Is Moor
ZFK

So, you want me to tell you about the industrial style beats and yes they are there but what we have here is a masterclass in wordplay and a true joy in phrasing.

With Less Is Moor, Zebra Katz scatters lyrics around like confetti. At no point does this diminish, he takes the listener on a lyrical journey. A well thought out and structured album powers from each track. From the opening intro, you are brought into what Zebra has become.

Experimenting with sound, a spasmodic sound that any Skinny Puppy fan would enjoy. But this feels more urban decay than industrial to me. Shredding words like a shotgun blast, filling in between the disjointed beats and those bass lines… What a joy.

Last time I’ve enjoyed anything nearly as good as this is when sensational worked with Koyxen. This album moves every part of me, for me, some outstanding moments would be monitor/moor, love it, love it, love it!!

Yes, cannot tell you how much I love Less Is Moor. Stunning, from start to end. From the production, sound and ever so clever wordplay. Go listen, you’ll not regret it. – Guy Nolan

Comments

comments

Share.

Leave a Reply

naproxen