Review: It's hard not to see this offering from hallucinogenic and highly visual psych-rockers The Flaming Lips as a "here's what you could have won" release. And that's "here's what you could have won had you been able to attend this performance of one of our most treasured albums in one of the world's most aesthetically astounding venues". FOMO abounds, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a proper bucket list muso haunt, setting gigs halfway up a Colorado mountain. Throw in live orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, and you've got yourself a truly life-affirming evening. Even on record, there's a tangible difference between the sonics here and the original, still it's an incredibly beautiful and grand album. Perhaps most pronounced during the heart-rendering string sweep of opener "Race For The Prize" (expect shivers), tracks such as "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" and, of course, "Waitin' For A Superman" feel as though they have finally found their home.
Review: In a music landscape seemingly micro-managed and steeped in cliche to the point of inescapable blandess, the maverick spark of an artist like Ezra Furman is something to be valued very highly. His third album 'Perpetual Motion People' crams more ideas, energy, eccentricity and chutzpah into its thirteen tracks than most bands can dream of in a career. Wracked by self-doubt he may be, yet Furman here channels his angst, inspiration and flamboyant joie-de-vivre into a kaleidoscopic collection of exuberant ditties that sashay with blues-rock, jaunty punk-pop and acoustic introspection whilst maintaining a vibrant pull all Furman's own. The sound of a unique talent blossoming in rare style.
Review: The Soft Cavalry have arrived, a new project of husband & wife duo Steve Clarke and Rachel Goswell. Their debut, self-titled album has been described as falling somewhere between Pink Floyd, Talk Talk and R.E.M. To put it another way; slow motion stoner surf rock meets subtle shades of folk and washed-out Shoegaze. Dancier and straight-laced drums primed with disco energy also find their way into tracks like "Bulletproof". The album finds its unique space in seemingly being able to create a new study into cosmic folkology; perfectly weighted with atmospheres that drift across and through the album's many dimensions.
Review: For the second part of their "triptych" of collaborative albums with Patti Smith, the Soundwalk Collective traveled to Africa to re-trace the steps of Arthur Rimbaud, a 19th century French poet who fell in love with a mystical form of Islam called Sufism. The chants and music of Ethiopian Sufi groups feature prominently in "Mummer Love", alongside atmospheric field recordings (including some made by the group of the tree Rimbaud once sat under writing his poems), groovy new electronic instrumentation, fuzzy guitars, drowsy ambient chords and stylish interpretations of Rimbaud's poems by Patti Smith.
Review: It's been a whopping six years since the last Spiritualized album and Jason Pierce, the founding, spearhead member, behind the group's success honourably lives up to expanding the notion of 'space rock' into 2018, and beyond. On the airwaves it's been "I'm Your Man" that's charted most attention, a sombre-ish, horn-blowing, western number with a touch of the blues. Meanwhile there's also "Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go", a song that is said to be a list of instructions that leads the listener to Pierce's house. "The route is real," he says, while singing about rusty gates, paraphernalia and radios. Space may be the place, but if not, try over at Spiritualized.
Review: The credits alone should make it clear where this one is coming from. Recorded over the course of six days in a Nashville studio, with Wilco's Pat Sansone on production and sessions musicians called in for services in pedal steel, bass and fiddle (the latter by hero of the instrument, Mark O'Connor), 'Dixie Blur' sees Jonathan Wilson add to an already burgeoning back catalogue of work something for the timeless folk and Americana section of your collection.
And he does this very well indeed. A reflective outing that deals with some relatively standard themes, albeit poignant nonetheless - youth, love, friendship and the loss of any or all of those things - this is a case in point for the power of paring things back and allowing what elements are there to fully shine.
Review: With a line-up that boasts Cabaret Voltaire's Stephen Mallinder, you know that Wrangler have got the chops when it comes to deviant electronics with experimental grit and synth-pop nous in equal measure. On their latest album they sound more vital than ever, skirting around a fizzing array of grooves where the human voices and synths speak with equal flair and personality. Craftily sculpted and joyously composed, this is a delightfully modernist twist on the blueprint Cabs helped define all those decades ago. The spirit of progress is alive and well across this beautifully bonkers record - all disco delinquents take note!