New releases from Wand, Toro Y Moi, Marriages and more
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up with Fat White Family’s collaboration with the Eccentronic Research Council, the sludgy riffs of Wand and more.
Comet Gain – Fingerprint Ritual EP
Twenty years and six albums have passed since Comet Gain’s debut ‘Casino Classics’, with leader David Feck the London group’s only constant member since. Recorded during the same sessions as last year’s country-leaning ‘Paperback Ghosts’, ‘Fingerprint Ritual’ is a psychedelic bomb that recalls and improves on the band’s alliance with New Yorkers Crystal Stilts, in their Cinema Red And Blue supergroup. Eleven-minute opener ‘Breaking Open The Head Part 2 (The Eye-Shaped Room)’ jams together psych-fried lyrics (“All the magic colours/All those bad-trip summers”), organ fuzz and backwards guitar without wasting a breath. The acid-garage remainder tackles socialism and riot-starting, injecting its mind-expanding ambitions with a political conscience.
Milky Wimpshake – Encore, Un Effort!
If Milky Wimpshake have ever fretted about a creative impasse in their 20-years-plus lifespan, it doesn’t show. ‘Encore, Un Effort!’, the Newcastle trio’s seventh album, follows the template of its six predecessors – jangly, malcontent indie-pop with a serrated punk edge. It’s a jumble of the personal and political: the subject of Pete Dale’s speak-sung lyrical affection is as likely to be the prospect of socialist insurrection (‘Coming Soon’, ‘Le Revolution Politique’) as a person. Elsewhere, relationships are tackled head-on, and subverted: the highlight being ‘Ping Pong Lovers’, a duet with bassist Sophie Evans, who spits back at Dale’s doe-eyed dorkiness.
Wand – Golem
In August 2014, Los Angeles trio Wand released debut ‘Ganglion Reef’, a psychedelic record inspired by a make-believe island. They’ve maintained that imaginative approach for follow-up ‘Golem’, which is full of brain-bending riffs, effects and abstract lyrics. ‘Self Hypnosis In 3 Days’ mixes Pond’s wackiness with the power and weight of Black Sabbath, and ‘Flesh Tour’ noodles through dark psychedelia as Cory Hanson – who has played in fellow LA bands Meatbodies and Together Pangea – sings in riddles: “Sticks and stones, nobody knows/Life on the body, flesh tour around”. ‘Golem’’s highlight, though, comes in closer ‘Planet Golem’, a march through blacker-than-black sludgy riffs that melts into a puddle of noise.
Shlohmo – Dark Red
Having explored the murkier corners of modern R&B with Chicago singer Jeremih on collaboration EP ‘No More’ last year, Los Angeles producer Shlohmo returns with a second solo album of chiseled electronic beats. With its sparse synths, heavily-skewed vocals and carefully measured pace, ‘Dark Red’ is a deeply atmospheric record, ringing with isolation and fright. The wailing guitar line and spacey keys on ‘Buried’ create ghostly atmosphere, and ‘Meet Ur Maker’ shuffles and pings like a lost Aphex Twin demo. The rattling drums and broad, ambient synths on closer ‘Beams’ represent a rare foray into a fuller sound, but, for the most part, ‘Dark Red’ plays out like the soundtrack to a creepy sci-fi-horror flick.
Dean Van Nguyen
This Is The Kit – Bashed Out
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This Is The Kit leader Kate Stables has a perfect folk voice – clear, soft and soulful like Fairport Convention’s legendary frontwoman Sandy Denny – and she wraps it around oddly compelling parables about weather, sailing and nutrition. The National’s guitarist Aaron Dessner produces third album ‘Bashed Out’, bringing a crack team of session musicians (featuring members of The Walkmen and Beirut among them) and coating it in warm electronica and rousing brass. Synths imitate steel drums on the galloping ‘Magic Spell’, spiraling accordion thickens up ‘Silver John’ and buzzes of distorted guitar roughen the beguiling ‘Vitamins’ as the assembled talent takes This Is The Kit’s traditional folk to the edge of the avant-garde.
Marriages – Salome
It’s been some wait for anyone who dug Marriages’ 2012 EP, ‘Kitsune’. But the genre-mashing Los Angeles trio have finally delivered their debut album, and it wails. ‘Salome’ is a reverb-steeped wash of gothic, shoegaze-y post-rock metal marshalled by vocalist and ex-Red Sparowes guitarist, Emma Ruth Rundle. Rundle’s a formidable lead, breathing otherworldly narratives into life throughout, from the serpentine seduction of ‘The Liar’ and the Cure-like ‘Love, Texas’ to the erotic, violent title-track. The result is a maelstrom of noise, both ominous and ecstatic, doomy minor chords and cloud-parting major riffs. It’s a shame then that ‘Salome’ is smothered under oddly muted production – a spellbinding storm trapped behind glass, just out of reach.
Charlotte Richardson Andrews
Toro Y Moi – What For?
South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick has always had a certain chameleonic quality, which is probably just as well – nobody wants the word ‘chillwave’ following them around. The 28-year-old’s fourth Toro y Moi album, however, is a more drastic change than usual: out go the gossamer synths and minimalist production, in comes the exuberant power-pop of ‘Empty Nesters’ and ‘Spell It Out’, recalling the melodic puritanism of Big Star and the flair of Todd Rundgren. Those are high bars to clear and ‘What For?’ falters along the way, but its high points are so charming you’re willing to forgive the occasional low one.
Moonlandingz – Moonlandingz EP
Released via Fat White Family’s Without Consent label, the ‘Moonlandingz’ EP is a collaborative project between FWF members Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski and Sheffield artistic collective the Eccentronic Research Council. The psychedelic, synth-lead ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’ – whose video stars actress Maxine Peak – sees Lias Saoudi’s usual howl reduced to a fag-weary croak until a final shriek of ”I don’t feel alright!”. ‘Lay Your Head Down In The Road’ is more restrained, and ‘Psyche Ersatz’ sets Saoudi’s creepy whispering (”I’m so hungry baby”) to sparse electronics. A precursor to ERC album ‘Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine… I’m Your Biggest Fan’, this EP is a hint at something FWF have never shown: subtlety.
Jimmy Whispers – Summer In Pain
At the start of Jimmy Whispers’ debut album, a goofy voice bigs up the Chicago songwriter – formerly of the group Light Pollution – as a “great bedroom-popper”. The long-haired Whispers warbles along to fairground organ and a backing tape throughout the record, but there’s a tenderness that makes it more than a jokey take on Ariel Pink’s weirdo pop. The affecting ‘Pain In My Love’ has him singing ”I wanna change the way I’m feeling” over a skittering beat and mournful keys, and he whines quietly like J Mascis on the maudlin ‘I Love You’, on which you can hear him clicking ‘stop’ on the tape at the end. There’s sadness in Jimmy Whispers’ heart, and this record shines brightest when he lets it out.