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March - April 2016
This is our roundup. It's a short selection of things we've missed, things we didn't get sent, things that we bought, things that deserved a mention. Here they are:
Love Streams by Tim Hecker
Moody, atmospheric but actually pretty accessible as far as Tim Hecker records go. This is Hecker's first album for 4AD, a label that seems well suited for this particular release. The music is icy and laced with tonnes of synth resulting in not just droning soundscapes, but also neat little isolated melodies. It's a long way from Ravedeath but I wouldn't bank on a total synth-pop re-invention just yet.
"Violet Monumental II" - Tim Hecker albums are not the sort of thing that can be cut up into individual servings, but if you must dip in then have a listen to this track which is perhaps the best example of Hecker's latest sound.
The Wilderness by Explosions In The Sky
Unlike some of their post-rock contemporaries who have moved on to other areas of the sonic landscape, Austin, Texas' Explosions In The Sky seem content to be tinkering away within the quiet-loud remit. Here they do it as well as ever. Massive epic tunes, with a touch more electronics than you might be used to - I genuinely thought my speakers would explode due to some of the distorted/glitchy drum patterns on offer. It also comes in the most elaborate vinyl packaging I've ever purchased. Once you get the LP's out you might find it hard to put them away (in more ways than one).
"Landing Cliffs" - sweeping and sedate. The perfect track to ease you out of another great album.
The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey
A rare PJ Harvey album that doesn't go for some sort of extreme left turn, this one seems like a direct follow up to 2011's superb Let England Shake, as though Harvey had unfinished business to attend to. This may be a surprise to some given the ground breaking living art-installation recording process, which saw members of the public brought into the studio to witness some of the sessions, but what it lacks in re-invention it makes up for in pure songwritng and panache. John Parish and Mick Harvey, again have prominent roles, perhaps even starring roles this time, with many of the tracks coming over as proper group efforts rather than solo recordings. Another gem in the Harvey oeuvre.
"Dollar, Dollar" - haunting and evocative in it's lyrical narrative, this track includes one of the greatest sax solo's since Duran Duran's "Rio".
T R O U B L E by Woodpigeon
Sixth album from Mark Andrew Hamilton, a Canadian musician who goes by the name of Woodpigeon. This is a record which almost never existed as Hamilton effectively quit music altogether a few years ago. He was gradually coaxed back in to the indie-folk lifestyle after travelling the world and ripping up the rulebook (usual drill). Here he's experimenting with more unusual song structures with a band that isn't afraid to wonder into jazz territory to get their point across. At least that's how it starts, as T R O U B L E soon descends into sleepy (and sometimes dreary) folk with Hamilton's sad, hushed vocals being the lasting memory of the record.
"The Falling Tide" - an early high point of the album, which proves to be its peak. Jazz trumpet and atmospheric keys are the big hitters here, perfectly complementing Hamilton's hushed vocal.
Amen & Goodbye by Yeasayer
Yeasayer return after a four year gap with their fourth album, and one which has been described as a move away from a digital approach to recording, and a return to tape. Not that anyone would notice it from this batch of pristine tunes. It's a record of two halves, the first being clinical pop which is upbeat but hardly memorable. Side B is freakier and sounds more organic, its a complete mess in many ways, but enjoyable all the same.
The many short interludes scattered through the latter part of Amen & Goodbye, often far more interesting than the proper tracks that they bookend.