Review: It's not just in the album title that Newcastle bard Richard Dawson is ahead of his time. His dark sense of humour and sweaty barroom gig sonics break through the noise, identifying, tackling but not seeking to solve the problems currently facing British society. What could be more post-modern than that? The UK right now is a fractured and somewhat broken island struggling to come to terms with its own place in the modern world. It's also filled with people struggling to come to terms with this reality. Focusing on portraits of those lost souls, it's poignant, cutting and lyrically hard-hitting. A bold and mammoth concept for an album, the instrumentation is even bigger, easing up on the blues and folk of his formative years to allow more room for pop to break through. The result is proof that in times of desperation a nation can at least rely on its artists to offer some hope that all is not completely lost.
Review: The legendary Dead Can Dance return with their first studio album in six years! Coming from a school of Australian music pioneers that include Severed Heads and Essendon Airport among their class, this latest missive sees the duo maintain their psychedelic, exotic and mystic sound, with hints of witchcraft and ritualisms eternally abound. The album pays homage to Dionysus, Greek God of wine, fertility and religious ecstasy, and naturally the album oozes these qualities itself. Across the LP Brendan Perry plys his hand to a mass of instruments heard as otherworldly to the west, with a specific set stemming from the Balkans with an ensemble use of zournas, gadulkas and gaidas. Meanwhile Lisa Gerrad's exquisite voice remains as haunting as it ever was, be up front in the mix or lurking amongst the album's lush atmospheres. The Dead Can Still Dance.
Review: Are you a dreamer? Swedish band Death & Vanilla ask across eight contemporary takes on German Krautrock, French Ye-ye pop and 60s psychedelic. Vocals are breezy, their moog synths fat, with guitars drenched in reverb and delay. At times the band's sound aligns with other kindred groups like Goldfrapp, Portishead or even Bjork (with "Vespertine") through their subtle take on downbeat, alternative '90s pop and this is heard most in "Let's Never Leave Here". "Are You A Dreamer?" delivers the Malmo trio a fifth studio LP following last year's conceptual soundtrack for stage and screen entitled "A Score For Roman Polanski's The Tenant", and this time around, our highlights include the spacey western riffs of "Eye Bath" and the ever-so dreamy "The Hum". Esoteric modern pop for sure.
Review: Despite a number of significant personnel changes since the release of their previous album (the departure of founder member Chris Walla being the biggest), Death Cab For Cutie still seems to be in rude health. Now two decades into their ongoing career, the American band is still capable of producing glistening indie-pop brilliance, heart-aching torch songs and anthem-like festival sing-alongs. There's plenty of goodness to be found, then, on ninth studio album Thank You For Today, a set bristling with classic Death Cab For Cutie moments - not least the tactile bliss of "When We Drive", boisterous "Gold Rush" and chiming "You Moved Away".
Review: The preaching sirens of Deerhunter return, long has everyone been waiting, since the band's Fading Frontier LP of 2015. The group have moved on from the pinky-pop nostalgia they've described as their last album, and moved into and towards a darker and more intensifying feel. The Atlanta group's eighth full-length in total finds itself tripping out on klaviers and chant-like numbers as heard in "Element" and the rickety jingle of album opener "Death In Midsummer". While there's some crooked-eye positivity to be found in the James Dean referencing "Plains", the masterwork of the band's ambient and cinematic scope remains as strong as ever, and alongside Bradford Cox's undeniable haunt, vocal contributions and extra (subtle) hints of subversive nihilism come from Cate Le Bon and White Fence's Tim Presley.