Review: With their Mercury-winning 2014 debut 'Dead', Edinburgh trio Young Fathers set the bar high for themselves, which they met with 2015's follow-up 'White Men Are Black Men Too', and continue to do so with new album 'Cocoa Sugar'. Their third record isn't as brash and in-your-face as their previous two, but that's not to say that this any less impactful, instead 'Cocoa Sugar' is a stripped back, concentrated The group have a unique ability in that they can draw elements from a range of genres, with an outcome sounding in a class of its own and tantalisingly hard to define. Also, in their use off-kilter loops, gospel-esque vocals, haunting samples and breakneck speed verses, Young Fathers create dualities and contrasts that playfully subvert. Tracks like 'See How', 'In My View' and 'Lord' appear to tread into joyous and cathartic pop territory, before being pinned down by unnerving scraping samples and dissonant synthesis. It's these intelligently executed sonics and structures that make 'Cocoa Sugar' an addictive, thrilling and beguiling listen.
Review: "In Rainbows", Radiohead's seventh album, finally gets a physical release! It's one thing downloading this landmark album, but to actually hold this is something special. Not only do you get increased sound quality, but you also get the amazing artwork from Stanley Donwood. This album includes "Nude", a live favourite for many years that was originally written during the "OK Computer" sessions. More minimal that their "Kid A" period, "In Rainbows" does something that very few albums have done - its sound is distinct from previous Radiohead albums, but is still clearly Radiohead. Hail to the kings, they are back on top form. Get this album while you can.
Review: As Radiohead tour the world and then regroup to record their new album, Thom Yorke releases his own record, 'The Eraser' on XL Recordings. A collection of nine new songs, the record was written and played by Thom and was produced by Nigel Godrich. Variously hailed as "The Best Band In The World" (Q Magazine), "Rock's Best Live Band" (Rolling Stone) and the band were placed at number 1 of Spin Magazine's 40 most influential artists, Radiohead has arguably become the most acclaimed and adventurous force in modern music. Over six studio albums the group have proved that it is possible to make massive creative leaps whilst continuing to grow in worldwide stature. Their records set new benchmarks for others to aim towards, whilst their live shows reach levels of intensity and exploration that few can match.
Review: Given his innate ability to craft intensely atmospheric and often fundamentally unsettling music, it seems apt that Thom Yorke has finally got around to producing a film soundtrack. It's fitting, too, that said soundtrack is for Luca Guadagnino's weirdo remake of 1977 Italian horror flick "Suspiria". Yorke nails the brief, delivering a string of chilling, otherworldly instrumentals that not only draw on his well-established love of dark ambient and gruesome electronica, but also foreboding neo-classical movements and sparse, wide-eyed arrangements. There are a smattering of superb vocal moments, too, with recent single "Suspirio" - described by one broadsheet reviewer as "the saddest waltz you'll ever here" - standing out.
Review: Five years on from their last full-length excursion, Darkstar return with "Civic Jams", a socio-politically charged set that Warp says was influenced by two decidedly disparate musical inspirations: the opaque, slowly shfiting sonic density pf shoegaze, and 30 years of the British bass music continuum. In practice, that means a striking fusion of tactile vocals, drowsy electronics, wall-of-sound chords and crunchy, off-kilter rhythms that tip a wink to hip-hop, grime, dubstep, breakbeat and more, while never sounding specifically like any of them. It's not a club-focused set, but it an undeniably impactful one, primarily because its inherent bittersweet beauty and weary melancholia seems in tune with these unusual, claustrophobic times.
Phantom Band/Linear Johnson & The Protons - "Rush Rush"
Drums Off Chaos - "Drums Off Chaos"
Review: The sadly departed Jaki Liebezeit was the kind of drummer whose influence will be continually recognised over the decades to come. Best known for his work in Can, there are also many more sides to this singular sticksman, and Emotional Rescue has chosen to shine a light on his post-Can period living in Stollwerck. On the A side of this 7" curio is the sound of Phantom Band with Linear Johnson & The Protons. "Rush Rush" has a spiky new wave bent to it, but still Liebezeit's drumming stands out. The B side "Drums Off Chaos" need little explanation - it's the sound of one of the all-time drumming greats letting rip in a ferocious blast of percussive abandon.
Review: The latest dusted down archival dig from Emotional Rescue is by Politrio, a short-lived new wave / post punk band from Italy who released one album in the mid 80s. The focus of this release is their cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," which originally appeared on the Amnesty International P.E.A.C.E Benefit Compilation in 1987. It's a wild take full of rampant guitar wailing and limber slap bass that teeters towards the 80s funk rock of Faith No More et al, and that's no bad thing at all. On the B side of this 7" Double Wave gets busy in the edit, offering up a stripped back version for the spinners.
Review: Repeatedly mispronounced Los Angelean sister act Haim return with 'Something To Tell You', an upbeat and optimistic tale of making amends to a lost love, moving forward and letting go. The trio channel a Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac style of love song into a modern pop context that sounds as fresh as it does respectful to their influences. Furthermore, building on 2013's critically acclaimed 'Days Are Gone', their sophomore set proves that Haim's prowess as high calibre songwriters, vocalists and multi-instrumentalists continues to demand respect.
Review: There's certainly plenty to talk about here. British chart-topping and stadium-filling enigmas The 1975 return to prove you really can't predict what the troupe will do next, delivering what would be their most divisive and explorative album if it weren't for the fact they command so much loyalty from fans you could be forgiven for thinking dark forces were at play. 'Notes On A Conditional Form' is easily the furthest we've wandered from the formative years of a band that cut teeth doing teen-punk covers, and it's hard not to notice the subtle theme here. From 'Having No Head', which rides on a sharp house groove, through the garage breaks of 'Yeah I Know', low slung dub of 'Shiny Collarbone' and the shoegaze of 'Streaming', it plays out like a celebration of the breadth and diversity of UK pop culture.