Friday, April 21, 2017

40 From 40: 1989

You know we always fill this part up by talking about how the year in question is transitional or misleading? It's not quite reflected here because of time, place, the best work coming in the previous two or three years and the ageing process as much as anything, but 1989 isn't one of those years. It was the Second Summer Of Love, the acid house and rave scene boom leading to one of the great youth culture moments, the year of smiley faces and baggy clothes, the TB-303 and breakbeats, countryside rendez-vous and overreaching hedonism comparisons. Even guitar bands started learning from it as Madchester caught on, just as Tony Wilson said it would. In time, for all the police attention and tabloid scare stories, they'd come to make documentaries about that summer. Also, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers have three number ones, though one of the pair behind them will go on to found hard house label Tidy Trax so they still tangentially count. Like A Prayer and its religion-baiting video is the big worldwide hit of the year, cementing Madonna as the icon of the age, while in Britain it's the peak year of Stock Aitken Waterman, giving Sonia a number one, Jason Donovan the year's biggest selling album and the Reynolds Girls a shortlived career. Our biggest selling single is Ride On Time, reflecting house's commercial imperative and its habit of getting away with things, eh, Martha Wash? Then again this was the year of Milli Vanilli's secret slipping, so maybe that was just attuned to the times too. New Kids On The Block emerged as Ken left Bros, Band Aid II happened and this glorious minute's worth of TV fiasco happened. Are we going have a look at the possibilities?




Public Enemy - Fight The Power
Beastie Boys - Shake Your Rump
The D.O.C. - Portrait Of A Masterpiece
Double Trouble & Rebel MC - Street Tuff
Redhead Kingpin & The FBI - Do The Right Thing
Young MC - Know How
Neneh Cherry - Kisses On The Wind
De La Soul - Me, Myself & I
Momus - Hairstyle Of The Devil
808 State - Pacific 707
Orbital - Chime
Starlight - Numero Uno
Kon Kan - I Beg Your Pardon
Soul II Soul - Get A Life
New Order - All The Way
Popguns - Waiting For The Winter
The Wedding Present - Brassneck
Nirvana - About A Girl
Pavement - Box Elder
Another Sunny Day - You Should All Be Murdered
fIREHOSE - Riddle Of The Eighties
Kirsty MacColl - Free World
Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians - Madonna Of The Wasps
Yo La Tengo - Barnaby, Hardly Working
Pixies - Gouge Away
Fugazi - Margin Walker
Spacemen 3 - Revolution
Silver Bullet - 20 Seconds To Comply
Barry Adamson - Under Wraps
Happy Mondays - Hallelujah (Maccoll Mix)
Wire - Eardrum Buzz
The Sugarcubes - Regina
The Blue Nile - Headlights On The Parade
Kate Bush - The Sensual World
The Sundays - Can't Be Sure
Bob Mould - See A Little Light
The The - The Beat(en) Generation
The Cure - Lullaby
Galaxie 500 - Blue Thunder
The Stone Roses - I Am The Resurrection


Previously among the 40: 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

STN recommends: 19/4/17

Because remember: NEW MUSIC DOES NOT STOP.


christian fitness - slap bass hunks

Please refer to yesterday's post.




Waxahatchee - Silver

Katie Crutchfield returns with a meaningful guitar crunch that harkens back to the days when we called this kind of thing 'college rock' and Tanya Donelly roamed the land. Big old hooks, self-questioning approach, streamlined for maximum emotional effect. Out In The Storm is out 14th July.




Slow Skies - Shut Your Eyes

It's been a while since we've heard anything new from Dublin's Karen Sheridan, whose 2014 EP intrigued us with its glacial shimmer and yaw. There's very little information about what this is for or from but, if slightly more approachable, it remains a delicate floating confection of Sheridan's honeyed vocal and a number of interesting textures gliding below the surface.




Two White Cranes - Miso

We last saw Roxy Brennan exploring her electronic urges as Furore; back to the guitar for a while she's almost lilting as she tackles the mental delocation of moving away. No definite news of a full release but there's some dates coming up




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

STN recommends: 18/4/17

Christian Fitness - Bees Mode

Reminder of STN policy: you don't write about Christian Fitness songs, you let them happen. Seems the next album's going to be called Slap Bass Hunks.




Girlpool - It Gets More Blue

When we first met Cleo and Harmony they were skeletal and direct; with maturity comes personal consideration and a filling out of a lot if not all of the gaps - listen! Drums! - which gives the music a tinge of Pavement lo-fi broken melody against the softly downcast harmonies without sacrificing that off the top of the head emotional intimacy.




Saint Etienne - Magpie Eyes

It's back to the club-ready machines, whirring dreamy synths and sequencers for the second taste of Home Counties, out 2nd June, inspired partially by the Creation Records tome but mostly by a sense of loss and missing out on the world.




Kamikaze Girls - Berlin

The Leeds duo - yeah, one of those again, we're afraid, but bear in mind what it takes for us to endorse a guitar/drums duo these days - are newly signed to Big Scary Monsters and roar out of the blocks with rough-hewn juggernaut riffs and powerhouse drums driven by focused fury. Album Seafoam is out June 9th.




Sweet Baboo - Wild Imagination

The title track from Stephen's latest album, released 2nd June, is a dreamy, one man Beach Boys on a budget concoction that like much of his best work is sweetly uplifting very much in his own world that's just a slightly more sepia printed version of ours.




Post War Glamour Girls - Pollyanna Cowgirl

For a moment there they sounded like they'd gone *cough* anthemic. From third album Swan Songs, out April 21st, serpentine guitars and James' familiar doomy vocal fighting back against the wall of indifference.




Deerful - Subjects Of Our Love

Emma Winston has done time in Darren Hayman's band and Owl & Mouse amongst others; in her solo guise - album Peach out June 9th - she takes up Gameboy and assorted slightly worn synths to create racing 8-bit electropop of a personal affirmation hue.




BEAK> - Sex Music

Geoff Barrow's other band, as you might recall, go for the motorik, vintage organ sound and turn out surprisingly slinky, if unsurprisingly dark in doing so.




The St Pierre Snake Invasion - Dick E Mozart

76 seconds of death-or-glory-but-the-former-if-at-all-possible crashing hardcore, part of the Too Pure Singles Club, from a Bristol band whose singer did the auxiliary vocals when Mclusky played their semi-reformation shows, which follows with his band's angry crash dynamics.




Her's - I'll Try

Swooningly, nimbly romantic playing itself off against Norwegian vocalist Audun Laading's distracted slacker slur, the Liverpool-based duo have turned a few heads for their somnambulent bedroom pop, all of which is collected on story-so-far compilation Songs Of Her's, out 12th May.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

40 From 40: 2009

As promised when we did 1970 on Good Friday, the other end of our forty-year spectrum and a list notably more biased than most, even if its span is only the last five years, towards what STN was writing about at the time anyway. The Big Pink were the hot new thing of the day and Duffy emerged as the big winner at the Brits, we took our entertainment where we could find it. Michael Jackson's death was announced late on the Thursday of Glastonbury, and starved of anyone else to talk to BBC News interviewed White Lies' touring keyboard player about it. Oasis split, properly this time. "Kanye'd" briefly becomes a thing with the unwitting aid of Taylor Swift, though nobody now remembers him doing the same to Justice's video directors at MTV Europe's beanfeast three years earlier. Lady Gaga in her original "mixing up outerwear and underwear" phase broke enormous. Susan Boyle had the world's biggest selling album. Confusing days.




Ebony Bones! - The Muzik
Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
Everything Everything - Photoshop Handsome
Napoleon IIIrd - The Strong Nuclear Force
Animal Collective - My Girls
The Phantom Band - The Howling
Grammatics - D.I.L.E.M.M.A.
Joe Gideon & The Shark - Civilisation
The Horrors - Sea Within A Sea
Rose Elinor Dougall - Start/Stop/Synchro
Broadcast And The Focus Group - the be colony
Mat Riviere - FYH
Wild Beasts - Hooting & Howling
Los Campesinos! - The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future
The Leisure Society - The Last Of The Melting Snow
The Low Anthem - Charlie Darwin
Laura Marling - Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)
Bat For Lashes - Moon And Moon
The Wave Pictures - If You Leave It Alone
The xx - VCR
Slow Club - Come On Youth
Emmy The Great - First Love
Jesca Hoop - Four Dreams
Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
Super Furry Animals - Inaugural Trams
Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind
Copy Haho - Wrong Direction
Standard Fare - Dancing
The Drums - Let's Go Surfing
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Come Saturday
Johnny Foreigner - Ghost The Festivals
Future Of The Left - Arming Eritrea
Colourmusic - Yes!
Nosferatu D2 - 2 People, 0 Superpowers
Sky Larkin - Summit
Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This
Broken Records - If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song, It Would Sound Like This
Luke Haines - 21st Century Man
Madness - The Liberty Of Norton Folgate


Previously among the 40: 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Friday, April 14, 2017

40 From 40: 1970

40 From 40 refers, as you've likely forgotten, to forty tracks from each of forty years, and this extended weekend we're going to tick off the alpha and omega of our chosen timeframe. 1970 first, a year when the 1960s hadn't quite finished yet - the Beatles were still officially a going concern until Paul announced his lack of plans in a Q&A to promote his debut solo album in April and then filed court documents for their dissolving on New Year's Eve. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died within two and a half weeks of each other at the same age, Simon & Garfunkel released their final album together and Mike Nesmith left the Monkees. The Isle Of Wight festival brought about the age of the outdoor field-based hootenanny, that and other open-air and collective events over the early summer inspiring a tiny affair in Pilton later in the year. Musically, soul was at the end of its first golden age, the singer-songwriters were on the march and loud things we couldn't understand yet were coming into focus.




Edwin Starr - War
The Temptations - Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)
The Equals - Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys
The Jackson 5 - The Love You Save
Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)
The Supremes - Stoned Love
Chairmen Of The Board - Give Me Just A Little More Time
The (Detroit) Spinners - It's A Shame
Freda Payne - Band Of Gold
Booker T & the MG's - Melting Pot
Bob & Marcia - Young, Gifted And Black
Dandy Livingstone - Rudy, A Message To You
The Upsetters - Clint Eastwood
Toots & The Maytals - 54-46 Was My Number
John Lennon - Instant Karma!
The Last Poets - When The Revolution Comes
James Brown - Super Bad (Parts 1 & 2)
Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
Segun Bucknor & His Revolution - La La La
George Harrison - Wah-Wah
Syd Barrett - No Good Trying
Badfinger - Come And Get It
David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World
The Beatles - Across The Universe
Nick Drake - At The Chime Of A City Clock
Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
James Taylor - Fire And Rain
Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
Joni Mitchell - Ladies Of The Canyon
David Ackles - That's No Reason To Cry
Van Morrison - Moondance
The Kinks - Powerman
The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane
The Rattles - The Witch
Deep Purple - Black Night
The Stooges - T.V. Eye
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song
Amon Düül II - Archangels Thunderbird
T. Rex - Ride A White Swan

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

40 From 40: 2004

2004 was a year when things were upturned. Britney got married twice, the first cracks in that impregnable facade, though this was also the year of Toxic so nobody pried too deeply yet. That clearly wasn't something going to be afforded to Pete Doherty, whose charge to the front pages took hold as he left the Libertines, checked into and then fled a growing number of rehab clinics for crack addiction, got arrested a lot, formed Babyshambles, made the possibility of his playing gigs somewhere into a spectator sport and was voted top of the NME's Cool List to boot. Up the top end of the industry U2 re-established themselves as the biggest band in the world while their heir apparents Coldplay saw their disciples emerge into their own spotlight, just as the Libertines were with Razorlight pitched as the land's coolest band. That state of affairs was one grime, fresh off Dizzee's Mercury win in 2003, was very willing to ignore and go on its own way (until grindie happened, but we do not speak of grindie), Wiley and Lethal Bizzle emerging and Channel U doing on a Sky platform what SBTV would later do to greater acclaim online. The Streets proved the white trojan horse connecting the underground to the charts, a necessity in a year that despite finding house room for Scissor Sisters was more interested all told in Peter Andre's comeback, Eric Prydz, Natasha Bedingfield and the Eamon vs Frankee 'battle', a kind of Roxanne Wars for people who find swearing hilarious. No wonder Top Of The Pops was shunted off to its BBC2 Sunday night morgue towards the end of the year. Band Aid 20 happened at the end of the year to put the tin lid on a lot of things, not least Dizzee's crossover from urban to showbiz. It was also the year John Peel died, and despite everything that's happened since in the way we consume and learn about music the spiritual gap is still apparent. In solidarity with everything we learnt from him, here's a playlist of forty songs we like to think are eclectic in his honour but are actually all whitebread indie that he'd shake his head at.




Evil Nine feat. Aesop Rock - Crooked
Soulwax - NY Excuse
Saul Williams - List Of Demands (Reparations)
Kelis - Millionaire
Wiley - Wot Do U Call It?
The Go! Team - Bottle Rocket
Rachel Stevens - Some Girls
TV On The Radio - Dreams
Electrelane - The Valleys
Johnny Boy - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
Annie - Heartbeat
The Long Blondes - Giddy Stratospheres (original version)
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
Les Savy Fav - The Sweat Descends
Bloc Party - Helicopter
Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights
The Walkmen - The Rat
Mission Of Burma - The Setup
The Fall - Theme From Sparta F.C.
Mclusky - Without MSG I Am Nothing
yourcodenameis:milo - All Roads To Fault
Modest Mouse - Ocean Breathes Salty
Blonde Redhead - Equus
Sons And Daughters - Johnny Cash
The Golden Virgins - Renaissance Kid
Morrissey - First Of The Gang To Die
Graham Coxon - Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - There She Goes, My Beautiful World
Hope Of The States - The Red The White The Black The Blue
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
British Sea Power Allied With The Ecstasy Of Saint Theresa - A Lovely Day Tomorrow
Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
The Mountain Goats - Slow West Vultures
Clinic - Circle Of Fifths
The Futureheads - He Knows
Interpol - Evil
Art Brut - Formed A Band
65daysofstatic - Retreat! Retreat!
Sufjan Stevens - The Dress Looks Nice On You
Handsome Boy Modeling School feat. Cat Power - I've Been Thinking


Previously among the 40: 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008

Monday, April 10, 2017

STN recommends: 10/4/17

Feist - Century

Leslie Feist has described Pleasure, released on the 28th, as an attempt at a more raw, guileless recording session. You can well believe that on the evidence of this, tightly wound and meaningfully sparse. With martial drums and uncluttered directness PJ Harvey will come instantly to mind, at least up until everything stops and turns into a keyboard-led coda for Jarvis Cocker to do his breathy spoken word Jarvis Cocker things over. And then it suddenly stops.




H. Hawkline - Engineers

Hot off the presses, a third taste of I Romanticize, out 2nd June, representing another subtle shift into jangling summer pop with an acidic kick all wrapped around that familiar Welsh psych-confusion template.




Chemtrails - Headless Pin Up Girl

There's quite a bit of that sunlit harmonic surf guitar sound gone ragged and exposed around the edges around at the moment. More ragged and cut to the bone than most, and notably slower if not much less spiky than their usual garage rush, London's Chemtrails release their second EP of the same title on May 12th, inspired via singer Mia Lust's pre-transgender transition keeping of secrets by feelings on not being true to one's true role and place in things.




Milo's Planes - Fidget In Paralysis

The Bristol band's Delivering Business Success was one of last year's sleeper hits, which is a weird thing to approach a record whose stock in trade is direct, Fugazi/SST-inspired post-hardcore. The first track from third album Individual Development Plan, out 12th May, compresses things even further into 81 seconds of jagged riffs, molten gang shouts and general thrusting relentlessness reminiscent of Husker Du just as they were moving away from their warp speed hardcore origins.




Marlon Brando Island - True Heroes

Pitched as a post-hardcore Walkmen, if without the organ, the power trio ratchet up the emotional intensity on this half of a debut double A side, like the National of yore coursing and careering into a razor-tipped dynamic shift that takes everyone over the edge. The kind of band you may need to keep an eye on if only for their own security.




DBFC - Sinner

The Paris-based duo float unserenely on the techno-indie dividing line, aiding psychedelia tropes with beats and layers of unstable synths. The press release makes a Primal Scream comparison, which would be apposite of the blissed out attitude of Screamadelica was added to the Kraut-dub ambience of Vanishing Point, though more accurate touchstones would be the ambient end of peak Chemical Brothers, or maybe the club-psych likes of Delakota and Regular Fries right at the end of the 90s. Album Jenks is out 2nd June.




Lush Purr - (I Admit It) I'm A Gardener

Concise, noisy, inscrutable lo-fi psych-fuzz a-go-go, Lush Purr are signed to Song, By Toad, they're playing some dates with Meursault next month and their drummer was in Copy Haho, which is as solid a start as any. Album Cuckoo Waltz is out 5th May.




Fizzy Blood - Pawn

Fizzy Blood are from Leeds, as are Pulled Apart By Horses, with whom they share a yen for heavy rock shapes undercut with their own particular worldview, pummelling HGV-size riffs against walls and careering into fists-aloft choruses.




Friday, April 07, 2017

40 From 40: 1986

Number twelve of forty - see the previous post for those so far - covers an interesting year. Nostalgia kicked in, one week in June featuring six covers or reissues in the top ten. After the previous year's Live Aid increased press coverage meant the arena pop boom was about to turn stars into superstars, Madonna having the year's biggest selling album, while also previewing what level was to come with The Sun making allegations about Elton John that led to a successful libel case a year later and Junkie George having Six Weeks To Live (spoiler: it was more) Sigue Sigue Sputnik arrived, made an enormous noise, sold advertising on their album and promptly vanished again. The Chart Show debuted. The NME's C86 cassette codified the new jangle noise. And, out of the American streets, hip-hop and rap broke into the mainstream, Walk This Way leading the mainstream charge. Things were changing. These 40 songs (two of which aren't on Spotify) can't really hope, what with personal bias and that, to reflect that but we'll give something akin to it a good go.




The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
The Bodines - Therese
We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Rules And Regulations
Big Black - Passing Complexion
Hüsker Dü - Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
The Pastels - Truck Train Tractor
The Shop Assistants - I Don't Wanna Be Friends With You
Throwing Muses - Vicky's Box
Volcano Suns - Four Letters
Camper Van Beethoven - Take The Skinheads Bowling
The Weather Prophets - Almost Prayed
Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth
The Go-Betweens - Spring Rain
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Tokyo Storm Warning
Stump - Buffalo
Run–DMC - You Be Illin'
Prince & The Revolution - Kiss
Steinski & Mass Media - We'll Be Right Back
Eric B & Rakim - Eric B Is President
Schoolly D - P.S.K. 'What Does It Mean'?
Arthur Russell - Lucky Cloud
Paul Simon - The Boy In The Bubble
Pet Shop Boys - Suburbia
Kraftwerk - The Telephone Call
New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk - Love Can't Turn Around
Colourbox - The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme
Public Image Ltd - Rise
Talk Talk - Life's What You Make It
Red Box - Chenko (Tenka-Io)
The The - Heartland
Furniture - Brilliant Mind
It's Immaterial - Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune)
XTC - Dear God
R.E.M. - Cuyahoga
The Housemartins - Think For A Minute (single version)
Peter Gabriel feat. Kate Bush - Don't Give Up
Billy Bragg - Greetings To The New Brunette
Sonic Youth - Star Power
Wire - Drill

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

STN recommends: 5/4/17

Yr Poetry - These Are Not The Days Of Our Lives

For the course of 2017 sometime side project Yr Poetry is what Alexei and Junior of Johnny Foreigner are concentrating on. One Night Alive, is the first of three EPs promised this year, pay what you want but with a subscription service where for £20 a year you'll get a CD compilation of said releases, exclusive song downloads, money off any merch and whatever all concerned do from 2018 onwards. None of this would be worth typing that out without the songs, less full-band like (evidently), more electronic (indubitably, it's Junior), otherwise still explosive, still laser focused, still fixated on bad Birmingham indie/rock club nights and worse mornings after.




Christian Fitness - Bruce Hated Puppies

Talking of things done while the regular band are on a break, Falco... Falco.




Melody's Echo Chamber - Cross My Heart

Although a single came out under the radar in 2014 we've heard very little of Melody Prochet since 2012's debut album. We still don't have a release date for follow-up Bon Voyage but we do have a seven minute track that can best - no, pretty much only - be described as an odyssey, based in classically lush Gallic pop tropes but diverting itself as and when it fancies into psychedelia, prog hints, floating dreaminess, glitchy interruptions and at one stage a spot of beatboxing. It's a remarkable thing, pastoral and busy almost simultaneously, and worth your extended while.




Amber Arcades - Can't Say That We Tried

Annelotte De Graaf has a new EP under her spectral empathy guise, and this track from it builds the spire of the sonic cathedral by doing away with beats entirely, built on organ drone, guitar twang and pure emotion about either loss or never getting to know in the first place.




Fazerdaze - Take It Slow

We just wrote about Fazerdaze last week and this isn't that broadly dissimilar, but alright... New Zealander Amelia Murray, recording for Flying Nun, album Morningside out 5th May, dealing in heat-haze languidly melancholic surf-pop. She and they are in the UK from spring bank holiday weekend for about three weeks.




H. Grimace - Lipsyncer

A third track from Self Architect, out on Friday, this one less built on energy rush, more streamlined and considered. Good. It's still built on nervous tension and a coiled spring anger at societal demands into an intriguingly tangled coda, generally in no mood to become the anthem it might well easily have slipped into.




Monday, April 03, 2017

40 From 40: 2008

For latecomers, this is the eleventh in our sequence of forty tracks to represent (as through our eyes at least) each of the pop years 1970 to 2009. So far we've covered 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005. And now... 2008 was the year, as we wrote at the time, when the decade realised it had got past its mid-section without a mammoth sea change and decided to coast it instead. Methods of delivery changed dramatically, the way we consumed music evolved as downloading came into its own and the high street (and major distribution company Pinnacle) fell into the credit crunch chasm, the major labels committed their slow collapse into the hands of investment fund managers, but everything else lurched into stasis. What that of course meant was squeezing the customer dry as deluxe editions and priority ticketing held sway, but it turned out that was how people wanted it. Everything old was current again and the safety-first mechanism was kicking in. Basshunter had five weeks at number one. Scooter became a number one album act. Duffy was the big noise of the year, surely seeing off her supposed rival Adele for good. Guns'n'Roses' Chinese Democracy finally came out and failed to justify itself by being forgettably middling. A promising underground talent called Skepta made an electro record, Rolex Sweep, with its own dance and Timmy Mallett to demonstrate it in the video - it peaked at 86, so we'd never hear from him or the compromised integrity of grime again. If 2008 was the year of anything it was Autotune, the long tail, 'wonky pop', the Mighty Boosh having their own festival, Disney pop and Hallelujah. Everything around looked like it was downsizing. Amid all that the UK underground made its last big push with the LC!/JoFo charabanc, the London nu-folk scene coalesced, grizzled tender-sided roughhouses Elbow became beloved national entertainers, and these things happened (again with one we really wanted to keep in despite not being on Spotify)....




The Lovely Eggs - Have You Ever Heard A Digital Accordion?
Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus
Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Peppa And Spinderella
Dananananaykroyd - Pink Sabbath
Three Trapped Tigers - 1
Zombie-Zombie - Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free
David Holmes - I Heard Wonders
TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose
Vampire Weekend - Walcott
Micachu & The Shapes - Golden Phone
The Chap - Fun And Interesting
Fujiya & Miyagi - Knickerbocker
Fuck Buttons - Bright Tomorrow
Wiley - Wearing My Rolex
WHY? - Song Of The Sad Assassin
Meursault - The Furnace
Florence & The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
The Walkmen - In The New Year
A Classic Education - Stay, Son
Elbow - Mirrorball
Warpaint - Billie Holiday
Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
British Sea Power - Canvey Island
dEUS - Slow
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - We Call Upon The Author
Mystery Jets feat. Laura Marling - Young Love
Parenthetical Girls - A Song For Ellie Greenwich
Lykke Li - Little Bit
Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Wild Beasts - The Devil's Crayon
Foals - Red Socks Pugie
Hello Saferide - Anna
The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby
Kat Flint - Go Faster Stripes
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Johnny Flynn - Wayne Rooney
Portishead - The Rip
Maybeshewill - He Films The Clouds Pt. 2
Her Name Is Calla - New England

Saturday, April 01, 2017

STN recommends... March 2017

Back once again to round off a calendar month with a compilation of the stuff we've given a push on here and the best of the month's album tracks, as well as a handful that have emerged this week that we haven't had space to write about, including Broken Social Scene, Sparks and Slowdive.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

40 From 40: 1991

1991 is remembered these days as Nirvana's year and that of the alternative impinging on the mainstream, maybe brought about by the 1991: The Year Punk Broke documentary. Pop, the narrative went at the time, was in trouble, and Bryan Adams' sixteen weeks at number one proved it, beaten into retreat by not just loud, occasionally pedal-abusing guitar bands but also the commercial march of hip-hop, the last knocking of baggy and the chemtrails of rave culture that brought a dance music overhaul with it. Break free of the shackles of bad metal, you have nothing to lose but your make-up and backcomb etc. Obviously reality is far more slippery than myth. Nevermind was certainly seen as a way forward but it didn't reach Billboard number one until January 1992 or make the UK top ten until a month later (its all-time peak came in 2011!) The chart end didn't know what to do with itself, which would become more evident in 1992 but for now meant Color Me Badd, the Cher revival, a full welter of hits from adverts, Jason Donovan's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat barrage and the march of the megamixes. Even so, some kind of alternative sea change was evident in the biggest names, U2 retreating to a safe distance from what they'd been doing at the end of the 80s with Achtung Baby and Michael Jackson taking club sounds to heart on Dangerous. Simply Red colonised the sales list with Stars and Seal became an unlikely future soul pin-up, while acid jazz awoke in the corner. The KLF thought up 'stadium house' and then watched their obscure notions become actually huge. Rap threatened common decency as Ice Cube and Ice-T reinforced the path that Public Enemy were still building. And all this too, one song (the third here) short on Spotify but for a rounded appraisal of the year as we'd present it we couldn't really leave it out:




Del Tha Funky Homosapien - Mistadobalina
Saint Etienne - Nothing Can Stop Us
Pizzicato Five - Twiggy Twiggy
The Field Mice - Missing The Moon
The Future Sound Of London - Papua New Guinea
Young Disciples - Apparently Nothin'
A Tribe Called Quest - Check The Rhime
Electronic - Get The Message
Chapterhouse - Pearl
Flowered Up - It's On
Kitchens Of Distinction - Drive That Fast
Blur - Slow Down
My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow
Senseless Things - Easy To Smile
World Of Twist - Sons Of The Stage
Mudhoney - Let It Slide
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Kill Your Television
The Jesus Lizard - Nub
Pixies - Alec Eiffel
Superchunk - Seed Toss
Manic Street Preachers - You Love Us (Heavenly Version)
Hole - Garbadge Man
Nirvana - Drain You
Throwing Muses - Counting Backwards
PJ Harvey - Dress
Public Enemy - Shut 'Em Down
808 State - In Yer Face
Stereolab - Super-Electric
Talk Talk - Ascension Day
Massive Attack - Five Man Army
Kirsty MacColl - Walking Down Madison
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - After The Watershed (Early Learning The Hard Way)
The Sugarcubes - Hit
A House - Endless Art
Billy Bragg - Accident Waiting To Happen
Teenage Fanclub - The Concept
R.E.M. - Country Feedback
Primal Scream - Primal Scream - Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)
Mercury Rev - Car Wash Hair
Slint - Good Morning, Captain

Monday, March 27, 2017

STN recommends: 27/3/17

W H Lung - Inspiration!/Nothing Is

Here is the sum total of what we can pass on about W H Lung - they're a trio based in Manchester, they release both these songs on a double A side on May 12th via Melodic, and despite no real proof of having played live yet they're already booked to play End Of The Road, Blue Dot Festival at Jodrell Bank, Sea Change and Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia. So there's clearly something going on here - we have our suspicions - and while we await further instruction we have the music to go on, two tracks that together reach just short of sixteen minutes, and luckily it's great in all the right psychedelic/motorik ways, replete with lack-of-air-in-lungs yelp, using that length to shapeshift and evolve through cosmic instrumental breakdown/build-up sections and intense climaxes without falling into shoegaze territory. On Nothing Is some darting, pulsing synths come into play, shifting from Philip Glass repetition into a driving, malleable shape for purpose.






Sam Airey - Lacuna

Finally after what certainly seems like far too long, the darkly intricate craft of Leeds-based Airey has been formed into album shape, In Darkened Rooms out 26th May. Inspired by Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, here his cracked, emotionally spent falsetto is close miked amid a spaciously minimalist setting recalling a less wintry For Emma, Forever Ago.




Sneaks - Hair Slick Back

Slicks is Washington DC's Eva Moolchan, signed to Merge who release It’s a Myth the end of this week. She's/it's an intriguing proposition - taut bass and drum-machine led, delivery based on repetition and how language sounds, like ESG having first heard Le Tigre, with the recording of Mary Timony and her Ex Hex bandmate Jonah Takagi drawing strength from minimalism, which is what you can draw strength from if your album is ten tracks in eighteen minutes.




Alimony Hustle - Miss GB

It's been a little while since we've heard something new from the self-examining to a fault duo, who re-emerge with spacious, smartly vaulting guitar pop without succumbing to the usual bluesy/overdriven faults duos land in. Plus it's about Zara Holland, the titular beauty queen winner who was stripped of her title after going on Love Island. More particularly, "sexism, regret, the death of dreams and, ultimately, doing what you want in the face of all of that".




Gorillaz - Andromeda

The best, we reckon, of the four 80s revival bandwagon-flirting tracks revealed at the end of last week from fourth album Humanz, released 28th April, which seems to be a (quite uneven) club record for a darkened world. Indeed this is virtually old-skool house with its spaciousness, synth flashes and twinkles plus basic insistent beat, Damon in soulful, contemplative mood with rapper D.R.A.M. content to fill in the gaps.




BABY! - Home Sweet Home

BABY! is the nom du jangle of Orlando's Kaley Honeycutt, whose offering from forthcoming EP Pick Me is a sub-two minute joyous coast of surf guitar hooks and energetic warmth, invoking personal catharsis through sunny positivity like a lost Crutchfield sister.




Fazerdaze - Lucky Girl

A track that's been around for a few weeks but we only caught up with this week, and another typically swooning eternal summer kind of offering from the revived Flying Nun Records, New Zealander Amelia Murray similarly deals in bedroom-spawned hazy sunlight-dappled pop of breathy, reverbed for extra nostalgic quality vocal and contrasting emotions, the kind that sees joy and melancholy as part of the same package deal. Her album Morninside is due in May.




Caroline Lazar – Trigger

The young Atlantan was originally parsed as one of the latest country singer-songwriter wave, but this from her new Nevermine EP is a lot more, raw and brooding in minimalism even before it starts to slowly bloom, Lazar's huge voice pushing increasingly forward, before bursting into a emotively cathartic, intense coda involving seemingly all the electric instruments available.




Saturday, March 25, 2017

40 From 40: 1972

Compared to the two years either side of it, 1972 is a fascinating transitional year. Paul McCartney got banned by the Beeb for Give Ireland Back To The Irish, Led Zeppelin got banned from Singapore for their long hair, John Lennon was nearly banned by the USA for his out of date working visa... The playlist below reflects an age where the world was developing its own house styles for a greater audience and reggae was just entering its golden age, the singer-songwriters were carving their own paths through the undergrowth away from expectation, soul and funk were developing in stanta and people were starting to discover and then surreptitiously push back the boundaries of what instrumentation, rhythm and technology was allowing them to do - art-rock, Krautrock (or Deutsch-Rock/Teutonic rock as it was then mostly referred to then, the term that caught on thought to have emerged the following year), perfectionist studio experimentalists trying to put onto tape the noise in their heads. And yes, that ending is the most shameless of all 40 playlists.




Big Youth - Screaming Target
Augustus Pablo - Java
Laurel Aitken - Sex Machine
Prince Buster - Dance Cleopatra
Al Green - Love And Happiness
The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There
The Temptations - Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
The O'Jays - Back Stabbers
Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman
Van Dyke Parks - FDR In Trinidad
Lyn Collins - Think (About It)
James Brown - There It Is
Stevie Wonder - Superstition
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - The Night
Van Morrison - Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)
Hawkwind - Silver Machine
Roxy Music - Re-Make/Re-Model
CAN - Vitamin C
NEU! - Hallogallo
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Big Eyed Beans From Venus
Os Mutantes - Dune Buggy
War - City, Country, City
Tim Buckley - Get On Top
The Osmonds - Crazy Horses
Todd Rundgren - I Saw The Light
Steely Dan - Do It Again
Paul Simon - Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
Harry Nilsson - Spaceman
The Beach Boys - Marcella
David Ackles - Ballad Of The Ship Of State
Lou Reed - Satellite Of Love
Neil Young - Old Man
Nick Drake - Things Behind The Sun
Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come
David Bowie - Five Years
Mott The Hoople - All The Young Dudes
T. Rex - Solid Gold Easy Action
Alice Cooper - Elected
Slade - Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Lieutenant Pigeon - Mouldy Old Dough

Thursday, March 23, 2017

STN recommends: 23/3/17

Perfume Genius - Slip Away

The last time Mike Hadreas had something from a new album to share it was Queen, and it blew most of the year away. Like that song this bursts from a tentative opening into technicolour; unlike it this seems more metallic, less keen on outre sashaying than percussion-driven bold statements of individuality, strength through passion's vulnerability. No Shape is out May 5th.




Saint Etienne - Heather

Bob, Pete'n'Sarah's first album in six years, out June 2nd, is called Home Counties, that most London of bands getting round to considering their shared teenage years in Surrey and Berkshire. From just the (19-strong!) tracklisting business appears to be as unusual. There's a track called Sports Report! And Church Pew Furniture Restorer! And one, presumably in tribute to Earl Brutus' Nick Sanderson, called Train Drivers In Eyeliner! And Bob's finally got a track called Popmaster in! The song features an unexpectedly heavy bassline amid some quite restrained pastorial synth floatiness and Cracknell's lyrical muse stuck in suburbia.




Gallops - Crystal Trap

A third advance cut from Bronze Mystic, out 21st April, starts off in ambient waters and then slowly gains its propulsive steady vertical takeoff by means of 8-bit settings, syncopated rhythms and electronic post-rock floating before a mammoth synth sturm und drang moment. It's quite the adventure, yet again.




H Hawkline - My Mine

Huw Evans' In The Pink Of Condition was one of the sleeper hit albums of 2015, and with Cate le Bon co-producing and playing alongside Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa I Romanticize, out 2nd June, might well give him that extra push. The single is certainly classically further along his trail of shaky, skewed take on harmonic psych-pop.




Thurston Moore - Smoke Of Dreams

Neither the folkishness Moore openly loves nor the noise of yore, Moore's new album Rock n Roll Consciousness, out April 28th, was produced by Paul Epworth, which might explain some of the sheen, and features Steve Shelley and MBV's Debbie Googe, which doesn't. It's quite contemplative and thinking retrospectively of youthful hopes and ghosts, in fact, maybe a side effect of his residing in London these days.




Big Walnuts Yonder - Sponge Bath

Reminder that BWY a) is a bad name and b) are Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Deerhoof's Greg Saunier and Tera Melos' Nick Reinhart, and when we first came across the project they were essentially free jazz hardcore. This time around they're up the hypnagogic end of the scale, Reinhart taking vocals on a queasy psych-out lope. There's a track on the self-titled album, out May 5th, called I Got Marty Feldman Eyes.




Ralegh Long - Take Your Mind Back

It's kind of dizzying seeing where Long goes, as he evolved from power pop to orchestral beauty and now into a kind of country rock take on Big Star/Paisley Underground moves, with his honeyed presence to the fore. There's a pre-order/manufacturing crowdfunding going on for Upwards Of Summer, out 9th June.




Mr Jukes - Angels/Your Love

Well, this is unexpected as much for being any good as its origins. A brassy soulful, sax-driven cool groove featuring a looping sax sample from jazz fusionist Jorge Lopez Ruiz plus impassioned vocals from one BJ The Chicago Kid, pitching somewhere between a becalmed Avalanches, a jazzier Gorillaz and the Face-friendly first flowerings of British jazz-funk circa 1982, you'd never guess it was the first solo work of Jack Steadman, formerly of Bombay Bicycle Club. Album God First is out June 9th.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Romance and adventure: a salute to Fortuna Pop!

As of this weekend, an enormous crater opens up in the bedroom-insular, open air-spectacular world of indiepop as the Chance the Gardener of indie majordomo of all he surveyed Sean Price winds up his Fortuna Pop! label with a long London weekend entitled Twenty Years Of Tears - maybe slightly telling, as the label's first release came out in 1996 - starring Simon Love, Two White Cranes and a special headliner on Wednesday; Withered Hand, The Ballet, our recent alldayer headliner Pete Astor and the Would-Be-Goods on Thursday; The Butterflies Of Love, Sodastream, Flowers and Darren Hayman on Friday; Comet Gain, The Proper Ornaments, Evans The Death, the latest Loves final gig, Mammoth Penguins, Milky Wimpshake, the actual Bearsuit final gig, September Girls and Tigercats on Saturday; and then a quite spectacular literal and metaphorical (and only date currently sold out) blowout on Sunday with Martha, Joanna Gruesome, The Spook School and Chorusgirl.

Seemingly increasingly so as the years passed, the F-Pop! accroutrement to a release has regularly proved a badge of quality, and as much as the scene seemingly has a relatively good cushion these days the current roster especially being left homeless is going to leave a hell of a deep crater both in impact and having some great bands floating with no as yet obvious place to go.

Never managed to get Sean to come up to Leicester for the Alldayer despite putting the vast majority of his roster on over the years, though. His loss.

As a fond farewell, this is the playlist we threw together back in August upon Price breaking the news, thirty examples from across the years of what his whims and craft were all about:




The Lucksmiths - A Hiccup In Your Happiness
Comet Gain - You Can Hide Your Love Forever
Airport Girl - The Foolishness That We Create Through Love Is The Closest We Come To Greatness
Sodastream - Blinky
Club 8 - Jesus, Walk With Me
The Ladybug Transistor - Always On The Telephone
Allo Darlin' - The Polaroid Song
Milky Wimpshake - I'm Saving Myself For You
Crystal Stilts - Shake The Shackles
Joanna Gruesome - Sugarcrush
The Spook School - I'll Be Honest
Bearsuit - Itsuko Got Married
The Loves - Xs And Os
Tigercats - Junior Champion
Flowers - Pull My Arm
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Young Adult Friction
Evans The Death - Threads
The Aislers Set - The Red Door
Martha - 1967, I Miss You I'm Lonely
Chorusgirl - No Moon
September Girls - Love No One
Tullycraft - Lost in Light Rotation
Herman Düne - Monument Park
Shrag - Chasing Consummations
Tender Trap - Train From King's Cross Station
Darren Hayman And The Long Parliament - We Are Not Evil
Let's Wrestle - Rain Ruins Revolution
Chain and The Gang - Never Been Properly Loved
Mammoth Penguins - Strength In My Legs
Withered Hand - Heart Heart

Monday, March 20, 2017

STN recommends: 20/3/17

The Orielles - Sugar Tastes Like Salt

People who know things have been talking about the Halifax trio for a while, and now signed to Heavenly they've decided to abandon protocol and just go for it off the bat with an eight and a half minute debut single that swings gladly between reference points - scratchy post-punk, doomy psychedelia, frictionless punk-funk, Tarantino soundtracks, early Factory Records groove, dubby breakdown launching back into a sprint - whilst still seeming of a piece. It's a brave and exhilarating way to open, and it'll grab you before long if you make the commitment to run alongside it.




Feist - Pleasure

The title track from Leslie's first album in six years, out April 28th, is intriguingly low-key and swampy, even more so than the deliberate step away from over commerciality that Metals represented. Its single bluesy guitar with minimal backing and late on devolvement into wild-eyed half-shouted statements of intent recall Rid Of Me-era PJ Harvey, with the upfront brazenness mixed back in favour of the title's suggested hope of something basic and, yes, carnal to cling to.




Furore - Eyelid

Furore is Roxy Brennan, of what seems like hundreds of bands but chiefly by herself Two White Cranes. The guitar has been swapped for synths and a machine handclap setting, but even if it's more constrained by the machine beat the sense of turned inwards emotional rawness remains. An EP will be released on Mat Riviere's label Bleak Spring on April 3rd.




H. Grimace - Call It Out

When we first came across H. Grimace a few weeks back they were coiled springs, but if the second track we've heard from Self Architecht, out April 9th, is more restrained until its collapsing climax it's only through trying to push against where it's going, built on a cyclical insistent riff and the pure nervous energy coursing through the driving bassline and Hannah Gledhill's vocals alike.




Guided By Voices - Dr Feelgood Falls Off The Ocean

Robert Pollard feels like he releases fifty albums a month in various permutations, but GBV's August By Cake - a double! - will actually be his hundredth when released on 7th April. One year fewer than it took Billy Childish to get to that mark, by our reckoning. Apart from being driven by a drum machine, you pretty much know what to expect from this if you know your mid-paced slashing slacker end of the GBV template.






Pronto Mama - Double Speak

The percussion-heavy Glaswegian sextet, who release debut album proper Any Joy on 5th May, matches its urgent post-punk capture and release energy struggling to hold onto itself by considering what it is to think you have the world at your beck and call.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

40 From 40: 1999

The last year of the old millennium, all talk of new ages and old bugs, and we find music trying to work out itself where to go next. Shania Twain spent more weeks atop the album chart than anyone else, Westlife's reign of terror began, and the number one slot was the territory of Eiffel 65, Baz Luhrmann and the Vengaboys. Indie started its drift into becoming a dirty word for a while as Travis took root. While the post-Spice girl group glut burned itself out - 21st Century Girls would become one of the more notorious flop pop acts of the era - outside the pure pop sphere women found an inventive footing more in the wake of Lauryn Hill's success rewarded with five Grammys at the start of the year. Macy Gray appeared and charmed all before a gleeful dive into the deep end, but hadn't others done retro-soul with more staying power in the previous years? Destiny's Child and TLC took the R&B hindmost as Britney and Christina gathered all before them, nobody quite sure what to do with the former's forcefulness in a way that seems quite quaint these days if it didn't seem vaguely disturbing. Eminem was the counterpoint, daring all to do him down and then watching fascinatedly as oppobrium piled up. In a big year for trailer trash, The Offspring had a number one single. THE OFFSPRING. Mind you, so was Flat Beat, which barely qualified as a tune. And The Millennium Prayer, likewise. Woodstock's third go-round was the disaster of the year, though the nu-metal hordes fingered as the cause of its degeneracy would only become bigger from here on in. Trance was at its height and UK garage became the in thing as the herds went down to Ayia Napa. And if the rate of turnover wasn't enough, in June Napster was quietly launched, which would go on to change things completely.

So here's 38 songs from the year linked on YouTube and 39 on a Spotify playlist. One day this technology will come together for the greater good. We're still playing with how to present these playlists in text and realising you don't really want reminding what albums they're from as we all have both Google/the ability to click a hyperlink and the ability to listen. So...




Leftfield feat. Roots Manuva - Dusted
Dead Prez - Hip Hop
Add N To (X) - Skills
Aphex Twin - Windowlicker
Blur - Bugman
Appliance - Food Music
Death In Vegas - Flying
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Moya
The Flaming Lips - Race For The Prize
µ-Ziq - The Fear
Lemon Jelly - The Staunton Lick
Day One - I'm Doin' Fine
Lyrics Born - I Changed My Mind (Stereo MCs Rattlesnake Mix)
Ol' Dirty Bastard feat. Kelis - Got Your Money
Cassius - Cassius 1999
Morgan - Miss Parker (Dust Brothers Mix)
Beck - Sexx Laws
Super Furry Animals - Northern Lites
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Spanish Dance Troupe
Beulah - Score From Augusta
The Clint Boon Experience - White No Sugar
The Magnetic Fields - I Don't Want To Get Over You
Wheat - Don't I Hold You
Smog - Cold Blooded Old Times
Badly Drawn Boy - It Came From The Ground
Murry The Hump - Thrown Like A Stone
Hefner - The Hymn For The Alcohol
Tom Waits - Get Behind The Mule
Cousteau - The Last Good Day Of The Year
Doves - Sea Song
Plone - On My Bus
Clinic - The Second Line
Ladytron - He Took Her To A Movie
The Chemical Brothers - Music:Response
Le Tigre - Deceptacon
Sebadoh - Flame
dEUS - Put The Freaks Up Front
Sleater-Kinney - Get Up
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Mistakes And Regrets
Sigur Rós - Svefn-g-englar
Blackalicious - Alphabet Aerobics

Monday, March 13, 2017

STN recommends: 13/3/17

Napoleon IIIrd - The Scrape

A quick primer, as there's always latecomers - Napoleon IIIrd is James Mabbett and both of his previous albums made number four in their respective years' STN end of year lists. The Great Lake, out 19th May, comes more than six years after Christiania and is a five track literal change of pace, funereal, experimental and abstract in an ambient/Mark Hollis influenced sense, meditating on grief, transcendence and self-destruction. It'll get under your skin.




Public Service Broadcasting - Progress

No news on the subject matter linking PSB's as yet unannounced third album, but we can make an informed judgement from their new single. Or, y'know, just listen to it. Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura takes the chorus vocal amid the restrained whilst still propulsive motorik and samples of research and development both harking back to their debut record, as always retro and futuristic at once.




Fleet Foxes - Third of May/Ōdaigahara

3rd May 2011 was the release date of Helplessness Blues, the last new material from the once ubiquitous nu-folk trailblazers. The near nine minute, several phase first taste of Crack-Up, released June 16th, considers what's changed in that time via the medium of quiet-loud crescendos, self-examining introspection and a great deal of what got them this far, just now in subtly different, more overtly expansive and cinematic clothing before turning into something more acoustic ambient, not far from what Animal Collective used to do circa Sung Tongs. A fascinating return and proof that there's more than one way out of the pastoral impasse.




Soulwax - Missing Wires

The concept behind the Dewaele brothers' new album From Deewee, released March 24th, is they recorded the whole thing in one take in one recording session. It fits too, the pulsing electronics fitting in around the song seeming impulsive, synths dancing across a rutted landscape and shapeshifting effortlessly.




Darren Hayman - Upper Slaughter

Hayman is onto the second volume (out May 26th) of his Thankful Villages project, visiting the 54 UK villages where every soldier returned alive from WW1 and writing a song inspired by the folklore and landscape of each. For his visit to the titular Cotswolds village, halfway between Cheltenham and Chipping Norton, he invited local resident and Fairport Convention's first singer Judy Dyble, who lends autoharp and clearest of folk vocals to a tale of history flowing like the bisecting River Eye.




Sean Rowe - Newton's Cradle

Another track from Rowe's third album New Lore, out August 7th, it feels somehow wrong to hear his familiarly gruff voice against something quite musically upbeat, more appreciably outright Philly-soulful than he's ever been before in fact. Luckily, it fits nigh-on perfectly.




Pip Hall - James

Preston-based sixteen year old Hall created a groundswell of attention towards the end of 2017 with a lush electronically aided commercially leaning soulfulness, the kind of thing that can and often does dip into MOR Remember The Eighties? wash but keeps its head above water here with subtlety and meaningfulness, the song being about Hall coping with the passing of her father.




Year Of Birds - Western Splits (After Lear)

Teeside now-trio Year Of Birds have been around for a few years but the tremendously titled White Death To Power Alan, out this week on Odd Box, is their first album to be approached and written as a full actual album, if that makes sense. Their ragged lo-fi weird garage nods greatly at the Fall but would more willingly fit into the mid-80s scene John Robb described as Death To Trad Rock, and the more bands we have that sound like they could be filed next to A Witness or Bogshed the better these days.