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 seven of the best new album releases from this week: catch up with Downtown Boys’ activist punk and J Fernandez’ lush psychedelia.
Donald Cumming – Out Calls Only
On The Virgins’ second album ‘Strike Gently’, founding member Donald Cumming mined the past to make a record that sounded like Tom Petty and Dire Straits. Two years later, on his debut solo album, he’s moving on. In essence, ‘Out Calls Only’ is a break-up album – both from his former band and his wife, who he split with prior to making this record. Opener ‘Game Of The Heart’ is the closest he gets to the sound of his old band, and is an undeniable gem of New York rock’n’roll. Elsewhere he tackles new styles, utilising only an acoustic guitar on the desolate ‘Total Darkness’. Closer ‘Spanish Horses’ is a beautiful piano ballad that rivals anything on Tobias Jesso Jr’s album.
Various – Too Slow To Disco Vol 2
Berlin record-collector DJ Supermarkt probably doesn’t care that modern bands are reviving the slick yacht rock he loves. It might, however, entice fans of Haim, Father John Misty and Destroyer towards his second collection of the ‘70s/’80s real deal. Bookended by the compilation’s only two ‘name’ artists – Hall & Oates’ ‘Alone Too Long’ and the quietly bizarre ‘Capsule’ by The Monkees’ Michael Nesmith – the other 14 cuts comprise an ecstatic tapestry of blue-eyed soul (Leblanc & Carr), disco (R&J Stone), Steely Dan-indebted jazziness (Larsen-Feiten Band) and even some Christian rock (Bruce Hibbard). A great snapshot of a strange, fascinating period of pop.
Flo Morrissey – Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful
Flo Morrissey grew up in free-spirited Notting Hill as the second of nine children. The singer is only 20 years old and – by her own admission – had to imagine into life the air of patchouli oil and bohemian romance that pervades this debut album, but she convinces utterly. With a voice that swings between Laura Nyro and Joanna Newsom, she sings of rebirth over the strings of ‘Wildflower’, escaping the past on the acoustic gallop of ‘Show Me’ and heart-swelling joy on ‘Woman Of Sweetest Gold’, where spidery guitar evokes jangly indie veterans The Sundays. Produced by Noah Georgeson (Joanna Newsom) and Phillipe Zdar (Phoenix), it’s an intense record that lingers in the memory long after it’s finished.
Outfit – Slowness
Since emerging from a Liverpool warehouse in 2011, members of Outfit have dispersed to London and New York, meaning the five-piece are now spread across three cities. The dramatic post-punk sound of 2013’s debut album ‘Performance’ has shifted too. Follow-up ‘Slowness’ sounds like they’re still striving for singularity, though it’s hardly music without precedent: gleaming guitar’n’synthpop that touches on the motorik rhythms of krautrock (‘Smart Thing’) and breaks up mannered arrangements with crunches of electronic noise (‘Genderless’, ‘Swam Out’). While there are bands who share common ground with Outfit – These New Puritans, Hot Chip, Junior Boys – the appealing niche they’re easing into bodes very well for album three.
Various Artists – PC Music Volume 1
London electronic label PC Music is undergoing a mainstream reboot thanks to the patronage of Diplo and Hudson Mohawke. Its first official collection bottles its allure, with emotionally gratifying words and melodies smothering soulless Web 1.0 beats. Lipgloss Twins’ ‘Wannabe’ is dystopian sound art about ad culture – “Maybelline, Maybellicious”, goes its chilly hook – but it’s also a grime-pop banger. Hannah Diamond ballad ‘Attachment’ seems to satirise digital romance, but the 24-year-old’s untrained vocal conveys authentic heartbreak. Their classics remain buried in web mixes, but this set captures PC Music’s sublime pop philosophy.
Daughn Gibson – Carnation
Daughn Gibson’s 2012 debut ‘All Hell’ was so good, it damn near invented a new niche genre of music – ambient country. The one-time trucker from Pennsylvania almost blew it with his next record, ‘Me Moan’, which was closer to – gulp – actual country music, but ‘Carnation’ restores some of the eerie, discombobulated feel of his debut. Most strikingly, Gibson’s brooding baritone is largely absent, replaced by an indie croon more in line with the record’s influences – big-sky romanticism and moody dream pop textures. Songs like ‘Shatter You Through’, and the Wild Beasts pulse of ‘A Rope Ain’t Enough’ – represent some of his most fully realised work to date. But it’s hard not to miss the Daughn Gibson that snuck up on you like a 3am panic attack on the motorway hard shoulder.
Institute – Catharsis
Grubby Austin punks Institute come with good references. Drawn from members of the city’s hardcore bands Back To Back, Glue and Wiccans (who Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage used to play guitar for), they formed in 2013 and released initial singles on Katorga Works, which was once home to Merchandise. This debut album will excite fans of the Tampa punks as well as Savage’s boisterous crew. Tracks like ‘Cheerlessness’ and ‘Leathernecks’ are honed from rigid, pacy riffs and strung together by Moses Brown’s phelgmy vocals. ‘Cheaptime Morals’ boasts the album’s densest and most enjoyable instrumental section, as hissing guitars compete with battering drums. It all adds up to a fine statement of purpose, and an album for fans of modern American punk rock will devour.
The Parrots – Weed For The Parrots
Scruffy Madrid trio The Parrots say this debut EP was written at a time when booze and weed were omnipresent in their lives. Diego Garcia’s vocals – all howls and barks – buzz with a suitable level of frustration and pain, sentiments like “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel better” (‘I’m Not Alone’) coursing over crackling garage-punk guitars. ‘White Fang’ has tinges of surf to it, and ‘Terror’ is a clattering, paranoid burst that hinges on Alex de Lucas’ twitching bass and Larry Balboa’s rickety beats. Closer ‘Wild’, meanwhile, is a tipsy acoustic jaunt that has de Lucas sighing “I’m breaking down”. Somehow, The Parrots manage to make the hungover slump sound just as fun as the night before.