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 Doldrum’s weird synth-pop odyssey, Skinny Lister’s boozy shanty-punk and more.
Doldrums – The Air Conditioned Nightmare
Canadian electronic auteur Airick Woodhead continues his odyssey into the weirder extremes of synthpop and techno with a second album named after American writer Henry Miller’s 1945 account of his US travels. It has a nightmarish quality of its own, with strange juxtapositions of found sounds and jacking beats – brutal on the pummelling house of opener ‘Hotfoot’; panicky on the hi-NRG phases of ‘Loops’ – but Woodhead lightens the mood on mid-paced jam ‘We Awake’ and the Marilyn Manson-lite industrial of ‘Blow Away’. It’s a tough record to get a handle on, all fidgety switches of tempo and style, but the slippery acid of ‘Industry City’ and woozy electronica of ‘Closer 2 U’ reveal the breadth of Woodhead’s vision.
Tracey Thorn – Songs From The Falling
Writing songs for coming-of-age drama The Falling, Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn says she was inspired by a scene in which pupils at a late-’60s girls school have a languid jam session during a music lesson. Thorn played every instrument on this 17-minute soundtrack EP herself, recording each part in a single take. These songs feel brisk and rough around the edges, but the 52-year-old’s melodies are consistently sublime. Whether she’s singing longingly over stark guitar riffs on ‘It Was Always Me’ or adding folky backing vocals and woodblock percussion to ‘All The Seasons’, Thorn’s melancholy music is completely captivating.
Squarepusher – Damogen Furies
This follow-up to 2012’s ‘Ufabulum’ finds Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, creating each song live on his own music software, the energy of live performance colliding against the 40-year-old’s dark musical imagination. ‘Rayc Fire 2’ is the sound of techno descending into hell in a rusting elevator, all distorted synth and percussive intricacy, and ‘Kwang Bass’ is pure electronic dirt, a metallic beat piling into fevered acid squelches. ‘Stor Eiglass’ is lighter, reimagining The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ for gabba robots. This is an album to file alongside Aphex Twin’s ‘Syro’: one-of-a-kind electronic artist returns reinvigorated and still way ahead of the game.
Skinny Lister – Down On Deptford Broadway
A flagon of rum hoiked to their lips and their teeth smashed from a fight – a story told here on the rambunctious ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’ – London shanty-punk quintet Skinny Lister swagger into their second album so full of pirate bravado they even mimic Adam Ant’s ‘Prince Charming’ on opener ‘Raise A Wreck’. This urban sister-piece to 2012’s more pastoral ‘Forge & Flagon’ is gloriously drunken jig-along-the-gangplank fun, taking in lock-ins with your dad (‘George’s Glass’), kicking-out time sing-alongs (‘Six Whiskies’), pub princesses (‘Bold As Brass’). These are boozing songs of love, conflict and elopement brewed from intoxicating hooks, so embrace your inner Pogue.
Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never Were The Way She Was
The two finest soloists from Montreal label Constellation combine here for something far greater than the sum of its parts. Michigan saxophonist and touring member of Arcade Fire Colin Stetson has great mastery of his instrument: he sings through it, generates percussion from it and uses creatively placed mics to make it sound otherworldly. Violinist Sarah Neufeld (who also tours with Arcade Fire) utilises a similar versatility to lift her partner’s intensely murky and brooding textures, as on opener ‘The Sun Roars Into View’, making for a seamless pairing. Expertly controlled energy – best exemplified on the title track – unfolds like a well-crafted score to an imagined film.
Young & Numb EP
Long-haired Brighton quartet Demob Happy’s debut EP is a prowling exercise in sleazy riffs and purring disaffection. The title track is pure Queens Of The Stone Age – all heavy, dirty grind and seductive vocals from lead singer Matthew Marcantonio that cast a lyrical eye over the passive, glazed-eyed Twitter generation and find it lacking “You’re so comfortable in your serfdom/ Maybe you’re just young and numb”). ‘Fizz’ rattles along in barely two minutes like early Kings Of Leon, ‘Succubus’ – released as a single last year – balances grizzly bass with melodic guitar hooks and ‘Milk Parlour’ is a glorious clatter of sweaty bar room rock’n’roll. A filthy opening statement.
Spring King – They’re Coming After You! EP
Last September Spring King released ‘Demons’, a five-track EP that whizzed by in less than 15 minutes. This follow-up only hangs around for three minutes longer, but the Manchester foursome, fronted by songwriting drummer Tarek Musa, have added depth to their punky lo-fi. Opener ‘City’ is the sort of indie floorfiller The Hives would approve of and ‘Dream Boy’ is similarly boisterous, but the most exciting of these five songs are the last two. The simple riff and lonely lyrics (”I’m a broken mess without you next to me”) on the waltzing ‘Early Bird’ evoke Girls, and the plinking melody of ‘In All This Murk And Dirt’ shows there’s far more to Spring King than just speed.
Mile Me Deaf – Eerie Bits Of Future Trips
Mile Me Deaf is a long-running DIY project of Viennese musician Wolfgang Möstl, guitarist in excellent Austrian noise-pop group Sex Jams. This fourth album finds Möstl working with a pile of electric guitars, synths and tape recorders, slathering fast and fuzzy tunes with collages of faraway vocals and animal noises. The squealing, over-driven riffs of ‘Off The Core’ and ‘Seekers’ easily transcend their home-fashioned origins, carrying the casually devastating thrills that My Bloody Valentine once wrung out with ease. With nods to early Mac DeMarco (‘Extended Fraud’) and the woozy imagination of Stephen Malkmus (‘Living In A Shrinking Hell’), there’s plenty for fans of inventive lo-fi to dig into.
The Preatures – Blue Planet Eyes
When Sydney quintet The Preatures play live, singer Izzy Manfredi throws herself around, indulging onstage gymnastics and careering into the crowd. Debut album ‘Blue Planet Eyes’ – which topped the Australian charts last year – is crammed with pop-rock guitar, groovy bass and eminently danceable drumbeats. The addictive title-track and ‘Is This How You Feel’ are the best of the perkier stuff, but it’s the two tracks that straddle the record’s mid-section that show The Preatures at their most interesting. ‘Two Tone Melody’ is a swampy, maudlin love song indebted to Fleetwood Mac, and ‘Rock And Roll Rave’ moulds dirty bass and noisy guitar into a sleazy, dangerous pop song well worth a cartwheel or two.