NEW.MUSIC.FRIDAY. back with 14 reviews of new releases, reissues and more.
Like Hot Chocolate, Every 1's a winner
MOLLY BURCH - Romantic Images [LP/CD](Captured Tracks)
Having already released one of the best singles of 2021 ("Emotion" with Wild Nothing - available on this album now,) Burch continues that upbeat danceable formula on "Romantic Images" with some beautiful escapist Pop. Like a chanteuse, Burch takes on the vocal role hiding her power in the quiet moments of tracks like "Control" and then unleashing it with lovely trills and breathy excellence. Songs use near Power Pop (think Emitt Rhodes) piano and very little instrumentation. "Romantic Images" derives its lushness from how much Burch can simply groove. The Eighties’ bliss of "Took A Minute" sounds like a lost soundtrack gem from a John Hughes film, while "Heart of Gold" drives relentlessly while cooling things down with a Rhodes-played hook. For all the ballyhoo over the continuous rush of women in "Pop," Burch is making true Pop.
MUCK SPREADER - Abysmal [LP/CD](Brace Yourself/Republic of Music UK)
These London-based funky punks are slicing a few different genres right down the middle with "Abysmal." The closest approximation you need to understand Muck Spreader is the Baxter Dury-grooving-with-Tropical-F-Storm vibe on the banger "Matilda." With the impenetrable groove put quickly in place, Jazz horns bleat, moan and wander off around the beat like musicians walking by while they were recording. On top of that (and everything they Spread,) is the wildman vocals of Luke Brennan who veers from voice to voice in each song. Sometimes he sounds downright sinister ("50 Pictures of Your Dad") and others like Robert Webb's drunken lunatic Sir Digby Chicken Caesar (the drugged Dub of "Plumbing Problems.") "Abysmal" is Dub/Jazz/No Wave/Punk/Ambient music covering some ribald and weird conversations that double as short stories. Headed for woozy greatness.
BLANKETMAN - National Trust EP [LP](PIAS)
Manchester young folks form a driving Post-Punk quartet. Eschew all need for complex songwriting, throw it in high gear and just drive (“Beach Body.”) Even the more melodic moments occur at slow speeds (“Harold” with its poppy chorus and the heartening “Dogs Die In Hot Cars.”) The outlier songs “Blue Funk” and the closer “The Tie” are stitched together in a different way. At their most Post-Punk, Blanketman is strangely reminiscent of The Libertines but played at Shame velocity. Final question: Do you hear a single? Do I ever! “Leave The South” (possibly a sequel to The Fall’s legendary “Hit The North”) and its twisted chime, rumbling bass, and sing/talk vocals are a winner from start to finish. Edit that one word, and you even have a radio hit.
BROTHERTIGER - Paradise Lost [LP](Satanic Panic)
On album number four, John Jagos offers an interesting and melodic take on the sad side of Indie Rock filtered through the languid synths (and vocoder) of Washed Out with a hint of the more downbeat portions of M83. The songs on "Paradise Lost" have a real pull. "Livin'" is simple and direct, but Jagos winds its hooks around several heart-tugging chord changes. If anything his ability to change the tone or even color of a track through finding the right chord is Jagos' advantage. "Found" opens the album well, but it s the mid-tempo "Mainsail" that translates what could be Yacht Rock into a sweeping love song, while "Shelter Cove" eschews its Vangelis' like pace for a startling build around his high voice in the middle. "Paradise Lost" will hopefully find Jagos scoring films or just scoring some syncs where his anthemic, emotional synthpop can be used to great effect.
MAKEZ - City of All [LP](Heist Music)
MURCOF - The Alias Sessions [LP](Leaf UK)
Electronic music generally finds its greatest successes from having one foot in the past (Daft Punk's throwback to Seventies sheen) and one reaching far into the future. Dutch beat maestros Makez have already discovered themselves and a very good formula. Their House-meets-Hip Hop beats are both very urban (the strangely tranquil yet danceable "Sonder") or crank up the 808's tense ("Gonna Getya.") Either way, while more subdued than the House music they glimpse back on, tracks like "Not So Different" and especially "City of All" actually stand to stake their claim as a new blend of House.
Electronic music evolving from Classical composition goes back to its experimental roots. Composer Fernando Corona uses his first proper solo album to soar to its heights with Philip Glass-ian textures ("Fire Thief") and operatic-yet-ambient structures (the dramatic "Dividing Space") as its central songs However, in the arrangement of tracks, "The Alias Sessions" is a slow builder. "Unboxing Utopia" borders on noise until its industrial-strength beat enters. "Underwater Lament" explodes from the same almost-too-quiet place. Each track on "The Alias Sessions" dovetails to create and consistent image of near Blade Runner-esque proportions. The effect is mostly soothing, but it is best to let the entire experience simply wash over you. Corona's next film score is going to be mindblowing.
OMEGA - Anthology 1968-1979 [LP](Purple Pyramid)
PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) - Photos of Ghosts [LP](Numero Uno ITA)
Formed in 1962 in Hungary, Omega was one of the nation’s first big Rock bands (along with Illes and Metro.) This well-chosen compilation picks up where they started to grow more psychedelic, experimental, and sing in English. “Stormy Fire” features some passionate guitar solos that almost sound like tapping, while “10000 Paces” adds a majestic organ to the mix. When the Russians invaded, Rock became their biggest enemy - so Omega began to tour and record their albums in Hungarian and English (and even German when they traveled there, where they influenced the Scorpions to adapt an Omega song into “Dark Lady.”) The influence of a homeland where many of their records are banned and discovering the world outside while living peripatetically lends real drama to cuts like “Remembering.” Still, the most fun you can have is following the band changing with the changing times. They try out big glammy songs (“Everytime She Steps In”) and even some crushing-riff Deep Purple-ish Rock (“You Don’t Know.”) They head right on through the Seventies leaping into Space Rock (“Timerobber”) and keep their 1974 lineup going into the Eighties and beyond.
Established in 1970, PFM was the first Italian group to find success in America. Their near-symphonic compositions remain high degree-of-difficulty Prog, but their earlier albums have aged very well. Signing to RCA’s offshoot Numero Uno in 1971, they caught the attention of Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer when they toured Italy in 1972. Brought to ELP’s Manticore label, “Photos of Ghosts” brings with it all the Prog sensibilities of the day with well-orchestrated and constructed songs. With King Crimson lyricist (and Roxy Music producer) Peter Sinfield contributing words, “Ghosts” combines elements of Renaissance Folk (“River of Life,”) ELP-esque synth-driven instrumentals (“Celebration” - their US AOR hit) and even several time-signature switching cuts that remind you of Genesis (“Photos of Ghosts,”) and Yes ("the awesome “Mr. 9 ‘Till 5.”) However, the fact that they already have established their own sound and prove their depth on nearly every song (“Old Rain” is almost Jazzy and features a brilliant flute solo,) is what PFM is truly after. The first album we received in the States was actually the third of a fantastic series.
IGGY AND THE STOOGES - Born In A Trailer [4CD](Cherry Red)
If you remove the requirement and critique of sound quality, you arrive at that crucial impasse where no matter what the source - recordings were made to capture live magic. 1969’s “The Stooges” as produced by John Cale bounces between the still-unreleased “Closet Mix” style and the pitch-corrected-to-CD version without losing any..power. “Fun House” from 1970 with Don Gallucci is the beginning of The Stooges always needing to nail that flow of energy from room-to-tape within the first 30 seconds. The outtakes from “Fun House” tell a fascinating story of how the band adjusts to follow their dream formula of “two minutes of prepare ROCK followed by improvisation.” So in the leadup to 1973’s “Raw Power” EVERY outtake no matter how muffled, how destroyed-sounding is an artifact. Spilling over these songs again and again and again in studios, practice rooms from Michigan to Los Angeles to New York, “Trailer” is a pugilistic lesson in just being a Rock N’Roll who has to bring it every time. Like the recently released Third Man “Live at Goose Lake, August 8th, 1970,” you may not be able to identify that a member or part is missing - but you always feel the energy. “Trailer” is a travelogue through this troubled portion of Iggy’s career. “Head On” with its rapidly picked single bass note as an intro is vicious. “I Got A Right” with or without a solo is a pre-Punk kick in the teeth (even as that same Punky swing infects “Gimme Some Skin.”) The bass-heavy “I’m Sick of You” acts as a great barometer of the mood of desperation coming to “Raw Power” - even though it does not appear on there. Listen as they discover a new way to choogle (“Tight Pants”) and strut (“Scene of the Crime.”) But just listen, “Trailer” is the reformulation of searing and visceral “Fun House” to the full-frontal Glam-tinged assault coming.
ACCIDENTE - Canibal [LP](Get Better)
UPPER WILDS - Venus [LP](Thrill Jockey)
Played at breakneck speed, Madrid’s Accidente has all the melodies and all the thrust necessary to breakthrough. “Canibal” is a blistering 10 songs in 23 minutes, with all of them continuing to peak consistently. Vocalist Bianca leads the band into battle and then never lets up. The guitars are fast but clean (mostly.) When the bass pounds away on the anthemic “La mataron,” the double-kick drums of Edu are solid until he chooses to switch to a more straightforward pattern to underscore the guitar solo and lead Accidente to the big finish. A great find for the good folks at Get Better (King Azaz, Empty Country, and more.)
Dan Friel has played with the twin extremes of Lightning Bolt and Black Dice. Leading Upper Wilds into combat, “Venus” is furiously fast. Ten “Love Songs” pack a serious wallop. “Love Song #2” plays like Ty Segall fronting Squirrel Bait. It is not just a rush, it is a monolithic whoosh coming at you out of the gate. “Love Song #9” is baked in noise and emerges from it with a pounding distorted melody. “Venus” is Punk-as-Art and Art-as-Punk that is packed with enough zoom to take you to the moon.
KAMMARHEIT - Triune [3LP BOX](Cyclic Law GER)
Dark Ambient is a haunting world for Par Bostrom. His discovery of this world is documented on these three chilling albums. The lengthy ambient atmospherics of 2003's "Asleep and Well Hidden" give way to a more earthly vision of a dense, droning, and more repetitive work on 2005's "The Starwheel." The difference while not stark, is definitely a warming up from the subterranean temperatures. A swarm of bees disintegrates into an uncomfortable ring of sound that envelopes you on "Spatium." While the tracks may not be as spacious or feature the infinity-reaching effects of "Asleep," there is a certain mystery in just how unidentifiable many of the sounds truly are. Ten years (and one split EP) later, Kammarheit returned in 2015 with "The Nest." While it is mostly a return to the hypnotic chill of "Asleep and Well Hidden" there are several transcendental moments where the waves of effect-drenched sounds hit thrilling peaks that make your speakers rattle. "Triune" is a dream for Dark Ambient fans, with "The Starwheel" as a stellar standout.
ERDVE - Savigalia [CD](Season of Mist)
Brutal might be an understatement regarding this punishing, sludgy, Lithuanian band. Erdve at their best is a steamroller coming at you with headache-inducing drum hits and the blunt force trauma of guitars and bass pounded even harder. "Lavondemes" still echoes in your head after it is over as if your brain needed to turn its volume down a few more times to let its reverberations finally calm down. "Sugretinimas" bursts out in a maze of guitar grind and squeals, However, it is the contrast of the loud-soft-loud breaks that will really do you in. Once you arrive at the sedate but blackened instrumental ballad of "Pragulos," the dissonance is strangely soothing. "Savigalia" is aggressive and quite the Metal release to decipher, but you will have a great time - once listening does not immediately become a hair-raising experience.
ALEXIS MARSHALL - House of Lull, House of When [LP](Sargent House/Redeye)
Daughters frontperson Alexis Marshall brings the rawest emotion together with a random array of sounds that try to be off-putting but are strangely entertaining. Giant booming drum patterns and either near-industrial sounds and/or tortured piano create a dense backdrop for Marshall's primal poetry. Heavy on the repetition, Marshall has a lot to get out whether it is endless (listen as he grows tired) "Are You?" on "Hounds In The Abyss" or the ramshackle yowl on "Open Mouth." Again as abstract as Marshall wants to be, his This Heat-ish primordial groove even makes you want to shriek along with his metallic mantra "What a time to be alive!"
Well, another week, another list of several different styles and pursuits in music for you. Enjoy. Listen again. Share as you wish.
A mix of the NEW RELEASES from this week!
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