As the nation swelters in the longest summer since the incendiary year of 1976, Getintothis look at the best of the latest album releases to head our way in the last month.
As pointless as trying to see a correlation between weather and music may be, it can be difficult to deny that a good stretch of sunshine can add something to music that rain, cloud and slush cannot.
Think of a perfect Glastonbury, your favourite band playing as the sun finally sets behind them. Or any festival earlier in the day, sat in the grass with friends, good music and cold beers.
Think of Ibiza, the Mediterranean sun warming you through the day as you recover from one Ibiza party just in time for the next. Closer to home, think of being in Kazimier Garden with the coolest tunes playing as you casually mill around this almost too perfect space.
Now think of trudging through the rain after a November gig, trying not to fall over in the Glastonbury mud after one of its legendary storms or trying to find shelter as rain batters your skin and fierce winds take the music away at any bad weather festival.
No, there’s no denying it, music sounds better with sunshine.
And as our festival season becomes busier and busier, bands tend to release their albums in the summer months, to capitalise on the huge number of people they can play to over the summer months, making this not just a great time for live music, but also for new music. The only way we could be any more spoiled is if someone were to decide to move Christmas to the 25th of June, and we were able to see vans selling Christmas dinners at Glastonbury.
Walking through Liverpool recently, Getintothis was struck by both the number of people who were out enjoying themselves and at the sheer amount of music that we passed through. From cheesy 80’s tunes to cool beats to open mic nights, music was everywhere. At one point we found ourselves midway between some 90s indie and a rockabilly busker, and the result was not unlike the last Fall album.
It is good to hear that music is still an important part of people’s nights out, after hearing so many stories about it’s impending irrelevance. Whether it’s aural wallpaper to soundtrack a night at the pub or the reason you head into town in the first place, a chance to hear some good music can only be a good thing.
And so, with some well planned synchronicity (this stuff doesn’t just write itself you know), we kindly give you some further reasons to sit in the sun and listen to some of the month’s best music. – Banjo
Lily Allen: No Shame
Lily Allen had to put in some hard graft to bring out an album that would counteract Sheezus. Her third album left a bad taste on everyone’s tongue, which is why No Shame is a refreshing return to her former self. The title itself perfectly says everything you need to know about the theme. She’s experienced the media’s scrutiny, marriage and motherhood and now she has an album that reflects all of that, and more – while managing to remain relatable and universal.
The opening track to No Shame, Come On Then, instantly sets the tone for the rest of the album, which could be described as defensive and irritable. However, it feels as though there’s a little more than meets the ear. While it doesn’t feel like the most intriguing or encouraging start to an album, with the repetitive lyrics border on irritating, they also conjure up a weariness that’s reflected in exactly what Allen is saying. It feels as though she speaks almost explicitly to us in this opening track, suggesting ‘this lifestyle is repetitive, it is tiresome, and this is exactly what I’ll be talking about for the rest of the album, so get over it’.
She also touches on the breakdown of her marriage, which is the explicit focus of Apples and Family Man, where Allen shares some of the most intimate details that people even struggle to say to themselves, let alone to millions of listeners on an album. The simplicity of the song allows focus on the lyrics, making them ever more heart wrenching to listen to.
Latest single Lost My Mind, is slightly more upbeat in tone and one of the more intricate tracks, although it’s lyrically sluggish in comparison to the rest of the album.
In short, it’s the most bare and sensitive we’ve ever seen Allen, and certainly worth some of your valuable listening time. – Lauren Wise
Daniel Avery: Song for Alpha
On Drone Logic, Daniel Avery‘s incredible 2013 album, he skillfully melded music which recreated the euphoria of the club dance-floor while also making a record which was as intense to listen to at home.
Five years later and Song for Alpha is an altogether different electronic experience. It’s more sensual than the at times, frenetic surges of its predecessor, instead gliding in and out of focus with undulating metallic sheens. For here is a record which nods towards dance producer masters like Aphex Twin‘s Selected Ambient Works yet applying a fresh, bold beauty to completely get lost within.
The seven-minute Sensation is a remarkable rush of vibrating silvery pulses while stand out track Clear screams in and out of focus with fizzing beats and sonic lazer stabs. Diminuendo, meanwhile, feels like you’re listening in on the alien in Predator’s headset; all rapid vibrations and pounding deep rumbles.
What makes the album so compelling is the change of pace on the likes of minimalist twinkling of Days From Now or the cinematic celestial glide of the aptly named Slow Fade. While it’s too early to reflect on whether Songs for Alpha betters Drone Logic there’s simply no denying that Daniel Avery is once again at the peak of his powers as one of the world’s forefront electronic pioneers. – Peter Guy
Death Grips: Year of the Snitch
Snarling kinetic-rap industrialists Death Grips have unfurled another anthem of aggression and chaotic noise with the release of Year of the Snitch.
Trading in electronic blows, Death Grips essentially force you into a headlock and pull you to the floor with track after track of pummelling electronic pugilism. Blasts of avant-rap are scorched into the foaming mass of feedback, screeching sine-waves and seismic beats.
From the opener Death Grips is Online through Flies Black Paint and the spasmodic Linda’s in Custody, the ante is upped and the listener is dared to engage, to conform to the warping chaos that is presented before them.
There is no let-up here, this is not for the faint-hearted and the cavalcade of sonic meteors continue to pound the ground causing seismic swells of edgy grind and dense clouds of grime.
Shitshow tears holes in space time through cohesive blasts of noise and roaring feedback, Streaky is a downbeat moody swirler and Dilemma actually resembles a recognisable song, albeit one where The Fall are Brundle-flyed to Saul Williams and pulled though a chain-link fence, but still, it is structured and melodic and counts as quasi-commercial for these guys.
Little Richard channels the spirit of Kraftwerk if summoned during a nihilistic séance and the onslaught continues. There’s no slowing down or mellowing out as the album completes its 37 minute runtime, they mean it all the way to the end.
Year of the Snitch is a bewildering and chaotic sleigh ride into a tank of searing hip-hop antimatter, dig deep friends and buckle-up. – Mike Stanton
Alex Dingley: Beat the Babble
Beat The Babble, Alex Dingley’s third album, was released eighteen months ago over in the US via Birth Records, and only become available in the UK this last month. The record was recorded in California and produced by Dingley, Tim Presley (White Room), Cate Le Bon (from Cate le Bon) and engineered by Samur Khouja (Regina Spektor, Cate le Bon, Joanna Newsom).
There’s much to be said about Beat The Babble, its ragged punk vibe, an indie geek weirdness (Butterfly Corpses springs to mind, and She Just Came To Say Hello has a warped, almost fairground Wurlizter-ish keyboard), interspersed with folk.
Dingley’s combined qualities of eccentricity and sweetness mutates into the unexpected; there’s an infectious simplicity here, and a vulnerability that tugs. I Don’t Ever… is slightly bonkers but with a quiet charm, what with Dingley gently delivering the heartbreaker line ‘want to see you cry’.
Between The Sheets is simple piano, and Dingley’s plea ‘if you take me home I’ll be yours alone’ says it all.
Lovely Life To Leave (H. Hawkline did a stunning live version of this at his shows last year) and If I Asked You To Dance are gorgeous laments, both so simple but reflecting on holding on and cherishing easier times, or the memories of them at least.
They’re wistful, with a fragile beauty and honesty that’s absolute, a precious feeling running through all ten songs. – Cath Bore
Don Giovanni Records
This month has seen the release of Dusk’s first full album. The debut of their self-titled record is a refreshing transportation into deep south America: think the dusty biker bars of Nashville, Tennessee and Mississippi.
This American five piece, however, bring something more (and new) to the sounds of the southern states of America. Amongst their nostalgic tonality and vivid imagery of country music from the past, in their album there is, too, a merging with sounds of a modern age.
While in A Different Shade of Brown, for example, swooning violins of the south paint a picture of dustbowl America, conversely, the opening track of the album: Stained Blue warp the form of traditionalist country stylistics and collide them with rockier guitars. Dusk appear to straddle, in their 10-track record, a rich entanglement of sounds and genres.
In a description of themselves, Dusk simply state: ‘The world makes a peculiar sound when the sun goes down’. The elusiveness and subjectivity of this phrase embodies the intentions of their debut album. Reflective and nostalgic, yet seemingly innovative, Dusk is a pleasure for a summer’s evening.
Still possessing a small fan base residing predominantly in America, Dusk are yet to ‘cross the pond’ and tour in the UK. After a promising debut album, they are definitely an act to keep an eye on. – Ellie Montgomery
Evil Blizzard: The Worst Show On Earth
There’s a standing joke among Evil Blizzard fans that requires them to declare the band a massive disappointment at every available opportunity.
The band is used to walking on stage to cries of “You’re shit” and their Facebook page is full of disparaging comments about the poor quality of band merch and the like. Recent single Fast Forward Rewind didn’t have an A and a B side. It just had two B sides.
The band love it though and actively encourage the abuse, sneering at a Liverpool gig a while back: “Here’s a new one. You don’t deserve it, but we’re gonna do it anyway”.
But the joke only works because they are actually a good band. If they really were shit, then people would just stop going to their gigs. And that shows no signs of letting up any time soon and The Blizz have a decently busy looking calendar of gigs coming up over the next few months.
The Worst Show on Earth is the third long player from a line up that was surely conceived after way too many in the pub one night. Four (or sometimes more) bassists, a singing drummer and no guitars. Recent synth addition was perhaps a more sober decision.
Oh, yeah, and we all dress up wearing jump suits, kimonos and rubber masks. Should we have a guy wearing a pig’s head on stage? Yup – that sounds like a good idea.
It shouldn’t work. Other bands have tried and failed at this kind of shock theatre, where the look is the thing rather than the music. Yeah, Dirt Box Disco, we’re thinking of you. But for all the antics, Evil Blizzard take this thing seriously. They can play their instruments and they can write the songs.
The Worst Show on Earth is a sophisticated, thoughtful piece. Eight songs, of which the last two span 20 minutes of pummelling beats and distorted vocals. Mark Whiteside’s voice is haunting and threatening, always making you feel a little uncomfortable with its slightly edgy delivery.
Whether it’s the almost sinister whisper of Unleash the Misery or the urgency in songs such as Fast Forward Rewind there’s always something to keep you on your toes.
The album closers – Pull God From The Sky and The Worst Show On Earth are both heavy prog classics that seem to finish the album all too soon. We’re left wanting more, but as the band would likely say – tough shit, you don’t deserve it. – Peter Goodbody
Gorillaz: The Now Now
Returning much sooner than we might have expected with a new album written and recorded while Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz were still touring last year’s Humanz, current offering The Now Now has in abundance what some critics identified as lacking from their previous effort, Albarn’s vocals. Whereas Humanz was bursting at the seams with collaborators, The Now Now is virtually an Albarn solo effort, with only George Benson, Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle joining the fun this time around.
And it is a fun record, unburdened by any of the concept album tropes of previous Gorillaz outings. There are no obvious over-arching themes or narratives; it’s simply a record of good songs that sit well together. Opener Humility is perfect laidback, summer pop and Lake Zurich is an irresistibly catchy, foot-tapping dancefloor-filler in waiting. Elsewhere on Tranz the band sound like they’re resurrecting New Order as post-apocalyptic comic-book zombies.
But it’s Albarn’s own, not inconsiderable back catalogue that is most in evidence here in terms of familiar reference points. Tracks like Magic City and Idaho, with only slightly altered arrangements, would sit just as easily on a Blur album. Album closer Souk Eye exemplifies the sort of gentle melancholy found on Albarn’s 2014 solo record, and elsewhere there are subtle nods to The Good, the Bad & the Queen, Rocket Juice and the Moon and Albarn’s ongoing Africa Express project.
The comparative lack of collaborators here may hinder the album’s commercial appeal, but this is arguably Gorillaz most focused record to date, and one of their best. – Gary Aster
Let’s Eat Grandma: I’m All Ears
To be quite frank, Let’s Eat Grandma are a band best consumed live. Or on video. Because they deliver a performance first and the songs can be just a soundtrack. That’s not to say there’s no pleasure to be derived from this album, quite the contrary, but having seen them live, we are left feeling there’s a missing link when we listen to this new release. That said, I’m All Ears is a fine piece of work, that’s almost a given – the pair’s talent is immense and this is yet another marker they have few peers.
Eleven tracks of glorious electronica, ranging from the pizzicato 37 second long Missed Call to the 11 minute prog-like Donnie Darko this is an album that follows no rules and lays down challenges along the way. It’s an easy enough listen, but on a first hearing, we’re not quite sure what’s coming up next. Is it going to be a slow burn or a full on jumping disco? Who knows? It’s all there, though and maybe that’s the beauty of what they do. The element of surprise is key it seems.
Take The Cat’s Pyjamas for example. Sounding like it’s played on a wind up organ with a background of a burbling scratched vinyl record type thing. Or is it a cat drinking water? We have no idea and probably never will. Nor do we have much clue as to what it means or why it gets a place on this album. It’s only 1’08” long, but it kind of typifies the mindset of the band. This sounds cool and weird, yup, it’s included.
Cool & Collected is one of the long ones and (perhaps with a different mix or production) could have been on a Yes or a Rush album from the seventies. It has that feel about it, switching from slow and quiet guitar riffs to full on rock and then back again.
But it’s the closer that makes the album for us. Donnie Darko is a magnificent opus and a kind of love letter to the film – ‘And honestly some people are so committed to honesty but I don’t know if these could face that, but I couldn’t find my receipt’. The song finishes with some of the catchiest rhythms heard outside Ibiza on a summer bender. What finer way to close an album? – Peter Goodbody
Melody’s Echo Chamber: Bon Voyage
Melody Prochet’s much delayed 2nd album is well worth the wait, and a bold step forward. Fans of her previous outing will find much to admire here too, but it’s a very different record. Building on the neo-psych and dream pop of her 2012 debut, this album throws everything but the kitchen sink into the mix with impressive and frequently unexpected results. Fewer, but longer tracks are the order of the day this time round.
There is a wealth of influences and the record invites multiple comparisons drawn from across the spectrum of both guitar-based and electronic psychedelia, notably including Pond, Stereolab, Broadcast, Amorphous Androgynous and others. It’s an album that never sits still for a moment, with constant, unpredictable shifts in rhythm and tempo, recalling the irregular, staccato beats of Flying Lotus.
Should the music settle momentarily, then it won’t be for long before another sudden gear change sends it spinning in a new direction.
It’s a rewarding listen that still offers up surprises after multiple spins, such is the complexity and wealth of variety here. There are nods back to obscure late 60s acid folk (Linda Perhacs), 70s Krautrock and 90s acid jazz, just on the opening track alone.
Such a record might sound disjointed but the song-writing and Prochet’s tastefully considered vocals provide a centre around which this multi-layered and ambitious music can orbit without drifting off into space. Highly recommended; another non-English language, female-led slice of contemporary psychedelia that will delight established fans alongside those impressed, for example, by Gwenno’s recent efforts. – Gary Aster
The Orb: No Sounds are Out of Bounds
The Orb have had a long and strange journey to get to their 15th album. They can rightly lay claim to introducing chill out to the Acid House generation and for taking ambient music to the mainstream.
For a while there, The Orb were probably the biggest ‘dance’ act on the planet, with their U. F. Orb album going straight in at No 1 and a glorious headlining appearance at Glastonbury’s second stage. And then… they seemed to kind of loose their way. Sprawling albums followed, where ambient sounds won out over the catchy tunes and the sense of fun their previous releases had.
Recent shows touring their impeccable and spacey debut album Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld seem to have reconnected the band with their roots and The Orb are back with their best album for many years.
Starting with the upbeat and dancey The End of the End, it is immediately apparent that they are still on speaking terms with a good tune when the want to be. This opener proves to be slightly misleading however, as we are soon back on to more delicate dub ground, with heavy bass leaping out of the speakers and begging to be played at high volume.
Their ethnic-tinged beats and tunes are back to the fore for most of this excellent record. The Orb sound revitalized and, once again, making essential music. – Banjo
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
The debut album from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is an immaculate plunge into summery pop-jangle with a dark undertow.
A five-piece featuring no less than three guitarist-vocalists, RBCF effortlessly conjure a sprawling, mesmeric sound, not so much multilayered as interwoven – it chimes, it cascades, it unreels in unexpected ways. Hope Downs is a concise package – 10 songs that come at us in an intense 35 minutes – but it feels like an emotional epic.
There’s an urgency and energy to what they’re bringing but they don’t need to be manic about it. Fractured, yearning narratives unfold with some unexpected imagery – ‘electricity illuminates the rain’ – ‘river of brakelights’ – ‘do you ever, ever dream about a patch of dirt?’ – and occasional subtle pointers towards a darkening world of closing borders and privilege built on poverty.
After two well-received EPs and time spent honing their live act with extensive touring this is a band confidently setting out its stall in album form. The Melbourne-based outfit are playing around within the well-established ‘indie guitar band space’ rather than breaking the genre apart or birthing something new. Some of the songs sound as if we’ve known them forever – in a good way.
They’ve been compared with bands like the Go-Betweens and Ride, and described as 120 Minutes revivalists, which is fair enough but doesn’t quite encompass what they’re doing. Sometimes they echo the hallucinatory poetics of Television for instance – RBCF are charting some interesting territory for themselves.
Hope Downs is brimful with melodic energy and it sounds like they mean it. – Roy Bayfield
Slowly Rolling Camera: Juniper
Cardiff-based trio, Slowly Rolling Camera know their way around a groove. And on their third album Juniper it’s evident from the get-go that you’re gonna be taken on a wild trip.
Melding Elliot Bennett‘s expansive percussion, Belgian Nicolas Kummert‘s labyrinthine saxophone, Deri Roberts‘ subtle breaks of electronic sound collages and Dave Stapleton‘s progressive synths, the band specialise in gradual reveals and intricate unravelling of deep sonic tapestries.
They’ve been likened to Slowly Rolling Camera and the dub-heavy Bristol trip-hop masters, but on Juniper there’s such scope at work the virtuoso thrills of Slowly Rolling Camera or Slowly Rolling Camera can’t help be brought to mind; see Hyperloop with its crescendos of drums, warm organ caboodles and high octane brass – your head is positively spiralling by close of its five manic minutes.
The title track, meanwhile, begins all plaintive piano before stirring from its slumber with undulating modulations and a searing guitar solo straight from the Michael Rother handbook. Heavier still is The Outlier a triumphant riff-laden brew mixing magical rhythms, head-thumping keys and strident jazzfunk. It’s incredible.
Slowly Rolling Camera are new to these ears, but theirs is a trip we’ll be taken on many more times in the future. – Peter Guy
Snail Mail – Lush
If this album had to be described with a singular word, had its title been concealed, ‘Lush’ certainly would have to spring to mind.
The word encapsulates all that this record is; the guitars are rich and profuse, complimenting the tender words carried by Lindsey Jordan’s lavish vocal delivery.
But perhaps what makes this so remarkable is the maturity of the record – it is a debut record released under the Snail Mail moniker by the aforementioned Lindsey Jordan, who clocks in at an impressive 19 years old. We are so used to teen frustrations being conveyed by either overly sombre acoustic performances or pedal-to-the-metal sonics, that Jordan’s balanced clarity is startling.
It is the stark clearness of the album that stands out the most. Disregarding the hipster trend for indie artists to make deliberately low-fi records to shroud itself in mystery and confusion, this record is instead so clear in its sound and sentiments that even the confusion of her growing up suddenly makes sense.
The clean guitar tones brushed with reverb, allows no hiding for her confessions and complaints. Even when the instruments get marginally heavier, everything is still well-defined and in control – the beautiful glossy fuzz lick a minute into Heatwave demonstrating as such.
Some tracks definitely have a Jeff Buckley feel to them; the tone and pace particularly – both of which suit her warm vocal melodies perfectly, are just asking for soft lyrics of love and loss.
Jordan utilizes this not with bad teen poetry, but emotionally mature lyricism perhaps best shown on Pristine.
The guitar, however, retains its merit even away from the vocals. Its rhythmic ebb and flow on the track Speaking Terms makes the riff sound like it is in fact breathing – like the instrument has come alive – and this idea of life and everything being alive is heard throughout the record.
Though perhaps not explicitly in the lyrical content, Lindsey Jordan’s enthusiasm and youth is a staple, permeating each and every track on the album. It is an album not to feel old about, but to feel alive to. – Matty Lear
SOPHIE: Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides
SOPHIE has been on the scene for a while now, producing with the likes of Madonna and Charli XCX, creating challenging and innovative music along the way. But Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides marks the first time she has broken cover and headed for the mainstream.
The music here is angular, clever and unconventional. Huge beats fight with industrial sounds and chest-thumping bass, discord and surprise await around every corner. And yet the sound these noises make when they come together is a cool ultramodern pop music.
Is it Cold in the Water sees SOPHIE coming across as an experimental Florence and the Machine, while Infatuation performs the same magic on This Mortal Coil. The nine minute closing track Whole New World/Pretend World sees SOPHIE go Industrial.
Every track here holds a surprise of some kind and in SOPHIE we have an artist it is impossible to catagorise, her creativity taking the form of a restless spirit looking for the best way to express all her feelings and refusing to be tied down to one particular sound or category.
An album of wonders, to journey through Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides is to take a trip through one of the most inventive and original voices on modern music. – Banjo