The end of September marks the end of festival season, but it’s not all doom and gloom. At least it’s been a killer month for records. Here are 10 brilliant but lesser-known albums you might have missed.
Ought, ‘Sun Coming Down’: This Montreal-based art-punks’ second album is tauter and more urgent than its predecessor ‘More Than Any Other Day’. There’s something Talking Heads-ish about frontman Tim Darcy’s half-sung, half-spoken vocals and Ought’s lyrics are also preoccupied with the desire to break with convention and evade the nine-to-five existence.
Destruction Unit, ‘Negative Feedback Resistor’: This thrash metal five-piece from Tempe, Arizona, have released an EP of eight pounding tracks on which vocalist Ryan Rousseau screams about alienation over huge guitar riffs. It’s like having a hundred anvils dropped on your head at once. Really, the album should come with a disclaimer warning you to wear a hardhat.
Meat Wave, ‘Delusion Moon’: They’re from Chicago, they’re a three-piece, they make frantic, claustrophobic punk rock. But there’s much more to Meat Wave than that: their lyrics are smartly satirical, skewering targets such as online dating and right-wing American TV news coverage. Their lithe, bass-led sound leaves the emphasis on vocalist Chris Sutter’s abrasive, smart-Aleck delivery.
Salad Boys, ‘Metalmania’: After all that thrash and punk, it’s perhaps time for something a little more gentle. Step forward Christchurch, New Zealand’s Salad Boys, who trade in jangling guitar-pop so light and colourful it’s like aural candyfloss. The production is hazy, with singer Joe Sampson’s lyrics almost lost in the mix, making the snatches of decipherable lyrics even more wistful.
Menace Beach, ‘Super Transporterreum’: The Leeds grungers add a splash of psychedelia to their lo-fi punk sound on this five-track EP, which boasts catchy hooks and beefy power-chords. Fourth track ‘The Line’ features a bridge in which its bruising solo is suddenly stripped back to become a buoyant, corny guitar riff, through which you can imagine the band grinning cheesily. Great fun.
US Girls, ‘Half Free’: From Toronto, via Illinois, Meg Remy makes hazy, melancholic electro-pop that has drawn comparisons to both Ronnie Spector (her voice really is that emotive) and Dirty Beaches (the throbbing refrain of title track Sororal Feelings evokes the work of the scuzzy art-rocker). This is her first record since signing to 4AD, and has seen her achieve deserved recognition.
Mild High Club, ‘Timeline’: Mild High Club makes inventive art-pop reminiscent of ‘Revolver’-era Beatles and it’s no coincidence the man behind the moniker, Alexander Brettin, has previously worked with avant-garde pop superstar Ariel Pink; they share a nose for a woozy, weird hook buried in crackly production. Mile High Club is waving the oddball flag with pride.
Yung, ‘These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Choices…’: Denmark is still winning the punk war. Iceage kicked off the gold rush of Danish punk bands and Yung were one of the many groups – such as Less Win and Lower – to follow in their wake. Yung’s debut LP (preceded by a couple of EPs, also well worth tracking down) is a bracingly chilly and experimental contribution to the scene.
Empress Of, ‘Me’: Lorely Rodriguez’s debut solo album is alternative R&B as spare and confident as its title. The New Yorker’s lyrics focus on relationships – on make-ups, break-ups and crap one-night stands – while the music is a vogueish mix of pulsating synths, falsettos and muted percussion. ‘Me’ splits the difference between FKA Twigs at her artiest and Jamie Woon at his most sultry.
The Black Tambourines, ‘Freedom’: The Black Tamborines make freewheeling surf-rock as scuzzy as Californian band Wavves’ early output, but they don’t romanticise the Sunshine State, sneering “What you wanna go there for?” on the scratchy ‘LA’. When Falmouth produces the lo-fi likes of this brash, unapologetically snotty four-piece, why indeed?