New releases from Yak, The Fall, Sheer Mag 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 Chastity Belt’s woozy feminism, Passion Pit’s uplifting candyfloss-pop and more.
The Fall – Sub Lingual Tablet
This 31st studio album finds The Fall continuing to mine their seam of proto-rock’n’roll influences, with ‘Stout Man’ a reinterpretation of The Stooges’ ‘Cock In My Pocket’ and ‘Junger Cloth’ riding a riff that feels less written than unearthed. The centrepiece is a 10-minute hypnotic swirl of three-note guitar and Mark E Smith’s vocal inscrutability called ‘Auto Chip 2014-2016’ (“How bad are English musicians?” he snarls). Elsewhere, the sextet’s belated embrace of new media – they launched their first official website in January – is balanced by ‘Quit iPhone’’s consumer-tech disgruntlement and an enthusiastic paean to social media malcontents called ‘Fibre Book Troll’. Marvellous.
Cheatahs – Murasaki EP
Cheatahs took five years to make last year’s self-titled debut album, but the London shoegazers are now on a creative sprint. ‘Murasaki’ follows February’s terrific ‘Sunne’ EP, with the quartet finding unlikely inspiration in 11th-century Japanese poet Murasaki Shikibu. The euphoric title track ascends rapidly through whooshing guitars and vaporous synths, a vertiginous celebration of travel, love (“Lost in Tokyo, I saw her”) and noise. While the nuances of the shuddering ‘Warm Palms’ and the gloopy ‘3D Milk’ – on which frontman Nathan Hewitt dreamily sings “Sleep for hours” – are buried beneath fragmented studio treatments, closer ‘Wash Out’ ensures the record finishes on another disorientating high.
Yak – Plastic People EP
So far, Yak have built their fledgling reputation on volatile punk. On February’s debut single ‘Hungry Heart’, Oli Burslem barked over fierce rhythms from bassist Andy Jones and drummer Elliot Rawson. Two of the three songs on this new EP follow suit, but while ‘Smile’ and the title track build on the London-based trio’s Velvets-meets-Nick Cave menace, closer ‘Distortion’ is the real eye-opener. Woozy swathes of guitar glide through the intro, melting away as Burslem begins to sing. It’s dreamy but dark, reaching a crescendo that has the frontman lamenting “when you can’t see straight cos you’re going round the bend” with twitchy paranoia. Proof that Yak are exhilarating and vital whether conducting chaos or indulging something more considered.
Becoming Real – Pure Apparition
In what’s become the modern equivalent of telling sir that the dog has eaten your homework, Becoming Real (aka Toby Ridler) says his debut is late because he lost the files for a near-completed album back in 2013. For the love of creating music that sounds fresh and well-edited, starting from scratch is no bad thing, and these 12 short tracks mark a giant leap forwards for the Glasgow-based producer. Flashes of electronic R&B (‘SPS 7’, ‘Only Real’) meet with bleepy techno (‘DARE’, ‘Rude’), dubbed-out soundscapes (‘Comets Pull’, ‘Tibetan Moves’) and ambient house (‘Kick Flip’, ‘Pure Apparition’). It makes for a quality, crafted listen caught somewhere between Jon Hopkins, Rustie and How To Dress Well, but it’s lacking bite.
Sheer Mag – II EP
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If Sheer Mag’s debut seven-inch didn’t alert you to their noisy talent when it was released last year, then this brilliant follow-up certainly will. Jammed with the same Thin Lizzy licks and squealing choruses, ‘II’ is even better than its predecessor, and sounds like it was recorded in a mucky skip with rusty-stringed guitars and blown out microphones. Set to drums smothered in fuzz and singer Christina Halladay’s melodic vocals, lead guitarist Kyle Seely’s spidery fretwork on opener ‘Fan The Flames’ is awesome. The mellower ‘Travelin On’ allows the Philadelphia quintet’s poppier side to shine, before ‘Button Up’’s chunky riffing closes a record that rubber-stamps Sheer Mag’s huge promise.
Torres – Sprinter
The uncompromising emotional honesty of Mackenzie Scott’s 2013 debut announced the arrival of a major talent, and her follow-up is every bit as impressive. It’s an open book of candid thoughts and uncomfortable home truths like ‘Son, You Are No Island’ (a song you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of) or the startling eight-minute closer ‘The Exchange’, which plays out like a generational saga. “If you do not know the darkness then you’re the one who fears the most,” she sings on ‘New Skin’, a tone of familiarity in her voice that you’d normally reserve for an old friend. This record finds Scott facing her own darkness down with poise and poetry.
The KVB – Mirror Being
In their brief existence, London duo The KVB have won some influential friends. Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre recorded and released 2014’s ‘Out Of Body’ EP, while ‘Mirror Being’ – a cassette collection of “unreleased instrumentals and analogue experiments” – is now out on Geoff ‘Portishead’ Barrow’s Invada. It’s easy to see why Barrow might be into it: the likes of ‘Dys-Appearance’ cleave to the same eerie synthesizer template that’s powered his recent Ex Machina soundtrack. There are also germs of songs, such as ‘Fields’, a Suicide-like mope of clappy drum machine and doomy muttering. But really, it’s all about atmosphere, the sort that gives you fantasies about being a protagonist in some dystopian ‘80s sci-fi movie when you’ve just popped out to buy milk.