Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (extended remix)
The More You Live The More You Love (extended remix)
Nightmares (extended remix)
DNA (extended remix)
Electrics (extended remix)
Man Made (extended remix)
Tranfer Affection (extended remix)
Review: This year, the original A Flock Of Seagulls line up is touring together for the first time since 1984. To celebrate, they've decided to put out this collection of "Extended Essentials" - club-ready 12" versions of their original 1980s hits. There's naturally plenty to enjoy throughout, from the hazy shuffle of "Transfer Affection" and the alien freakiness of "Space Age Love Song" (a cut smothered in eyes-closed guitar solos that changes tempo midway through), to the surprisingly cheery hustle of "Nightmare" and the classic new wave creepiness of early single "Modern Love is Automatic". These aren't 12" mixes that showcase 1980s production trickery, but rather tasteful extensions that ratchet up the atmosphere and thrusting grooves.
Review: Alien Stadium is a collaborative project comprised of Martin Duffy of Primal Scream and Felt, and Steve Mason of The Beta Band. 'Livin' In Elizabethan Times' is an audacious and oddball cosmic rock concept mini-LP about a comically underwhelming invasion of drunkard aliens. As well as the sheer unadulterated fun of the record, the amount of dense and inventive genre-melting the pair have managed to cram into these four tracks is astonishing - dropping in theremins, sound effects, militaristic horns and much more when you least expect them. They set an interplanetary course from twanging and stomping bluesy opener 'This One's For The Humans', through hypnotic balearic-ish bleep and orchestrated retro-futurist pop, to the huge cosmic disco closer 'Titanic Dance'. At first glance, it's an unashamedly silly and fun offering, but repeat listens will reveal these maverick veterans have woven in far deeper layers of commentary humour and substance.
Review: Should you find yourself in continental Europe, or the little islands surrounding it, you may be feeling a sense of the autumnal blues upon the release of this European Heartbreak LP. It's far from a morose and downcast listen though, with the choral of Annelotte de Graaf's voice a shining light to lead you through the trepidation of winter. On top of her two law degrees and work for the international war crimes tribunal, this latest opus provides her with a second album following Fading Lines of 2016, and expect spells of tatty pop intertwined with boops and breathy vocals that meet with subtle brass instrumentation, pianos and folky practices, all sung with a slight smug and smirk of discontent.
Review: Over the course of their lengthy career, Animal Collective have put out a steady stream of albums that veer between experimental, post-rock soundscapes and skewed, left-of-centre indie-pop. Tangerine Reef, their eleventh and latest set, sees them back in experimental mode, delivering a range of fluid, liquid soundscapes inspired by their work with art-science filmmakers Coral Morphologic. All of the album's music was written to soundtrack a film by the latter duo, which can be watched in full on Animal Collective's website. Aurally, the album is indicative of the slowly shifting visuals - built around time-lapse style footage of coral growing - and tends towards the dreamy, otherworldly and drowsy.
After Upheavil (Richard H Kirk remix - Adi Newton Radical version)
Zulu (Richard H Kirk remix - Adi Newton dub version)
Review: Following the original dissolution of legendary Sheffield industrial funk outfit Clock DVA in 1984, founder member Adi Newton struck out on his own with The Anti-Group: an experimental project in which he could explore a variety of sonic worlds with the aid of a revolving cast of likeminded Steel City stalwarts (Richard H Kirk, Stephen Mallinder, Martyn Ware and Warp co-founder Robert Gordon included). "4x12" is a retrospective of sorts, gathering together tracks from three 12" singles ("Ha-Zulu", "Big Sex", "Broadcast Test") and one mini-album ("ShT"). Musically, it veers from collage style sample patchworks and dark ambient soundscapes to rubbery industrial funk, twisted post synth-pop, EBM-influenced workouts and madcap experimental escapades.
Review: Fight through the blizzard of scrupulously meta promotional activity surrounding it and you'll find a record that deconstructs the bombast Aracade Fire have become known for, reveals the vulnerability behind the stadium sheen and offers a treatise on modern day superficiality and consumerism. Moreover, it makes a sterling job of all three - joyfully disco-inflected, poppily uplifting, stylistically adventurous and bolder than every before, this is a band who can reference ABBA and Bowie irony-free in a ditty about information overload and somehow get away with it - a bunch of eternal square pegs with emotional wallop and deft melodic skills at their disposal, constantly in search of musical worlds beyond empty rhetoric and grandstanding gestures.
Review: Had it not been for 'chronic arthritis' you might have found the music of Anthony Ferraro, aka Astronauts, etc. filed under classical. Instead, with years of cafe work and collaborative encounters, he's surfaced as an emerging talent bringing fresh life to tropical, breathy, psychedelic and chilled acoustic sounds. His third, and most accomplished album comes via Californian label Company, which most recently put out Cut Chemist's long awaited Die Cut LP. This album however, co-produced with Chaz Bear, presents what's been described as an ode to ambiguity, the future, and saying 'so long' to the known. Across reverberant, acoustic soundscapes, expect a breeze of breathy vocals that add sweet sentience to the warm droplets of jazz, post punk, latin psychedelica and finger-picked guitars that is the balmy blur of Living In Symbol.
Review: You may already know 22-year old Norwegian pop singer Aurora Aksnes for her rendition of Oasis' "Half the World Away" for a John Lewis Christmas advert in 2015, but if not, she's the biggest thing since Robyn. This latest record, following A Different Kind Of Human (Step 1) from last year, presents a third album to date and one that forms the second part of last year's surprise release. Fast-paced, hopeful, dancey and nordically folkal music, (Step 2) sees Aurora deliver something more experimental than before with its themes said to focus on ecological crisis and societal concepts of individualism. Syncopated basslines, staccato vocals and criss-crossing rhythms hit all the right spots in "Apple Tree" while our other pick "In Bottles" combines '90s pop sensationalism with breakbeats made to fit house tempos. Tip!
Review: Katie Stelmanis, the spectrally-voiced and ferociously-talented figure behind maverick electro-pop outfit Austra, set herself the not inconsiderable target of setting out 'a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia' with this third album, yet against all odds she's done a sterling job of marrying the icy binary chill of technology with a very human frailty to emerge with a defiant and emotionally affecting statement of intent. Indelible melody and Stelmanis' extraordinary tones may dominate, yet the sonic landscapes here - equally bracing and beatific - have the rare effect of making the listener hopeful for what 2017 has in store.
Review: No matter how hard they try, some bands struggle to make people dislike them. Take Los Angeles trio, Automatic. Sure, militant guitar fans might find a little to complain about, what with the distinct focus on synthdom here, but realistically that's like saying you hate pies because sandwiches also exist. There's more than a touch of Neu! and Suicide in this indie-post punk mix up, but we wouldn't want anyone to think they'd heard this before. Unless, of course, you actually have heard this lot before. Working within sounds that often feel explored to the nth degree, we're dealing with a band disinterested in convention but obsessed with making you feel immediately at home with them. From the rolling bass, distorted electro refrains and send-return vocals of "Too Much Money" through "Highway'"'s darkroom neo-dance bounce, to the slo-mo, anthemic closer "Strange Conversations", this debut album stands out for miles.