Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.
Review: It's only been a year since his last release but in that time Stones Throw man Kiefer has toured the USA and Europe, released a mini-album as well as making three beats for Anderson .Paak's last two albums "Oxnard" and "Ventura". "Superbloom" finds him at his best, with invigorating sunny day beats and bright synths soundtracking a lovely afternoon the park. Jazz stylings, introspective chords and plaintive piano playing make this an emotionally stirring record with real depth, and one that reveals more with each listen. It feels like Kiefer's most honest, vulnerable and personal album yet.
Review: Three years on from the release of her acclaimed debut album, "Epoch Sinus", on Hotflush, Sophie Schnell once more dons the PYUR alias for a follow-up on Subtext. The Bristol-based experimental label says that the set explores Schnell's fascination with "the space between life and death"; it's certainly an unearthly, unsettling and occasionally hallucinatory affair that fuses neo-classical style musical elements (strings, operatic vocals) with evocative electronic motifs, crunchy IDM style drums and cutting-edge production techniques. It's a genuinely unique and mind-altering affair, but one that thrills and excites at every turn. A triumph!
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: There are two things Starcrawler can definitely be described as - lost children of the 1970s, and incredibly Los Angeles in style. They make music that seems impossible to remove from one of the headiest rock 'n' roll decades in history, despite age preventing them from actually having been there at the time. It also falls on the polished side of heavy metal, channeling both pop punk and bare-chested, sweat-soaked guitar solos in one fell swoop. The result is a record that plays out like a bar fight in Tinsel Town. Muscular, powerful, driving and unarguably sexy, from the gaggle of kids preceding the onslaught of opener "Lizzy" to the final, liquor-soaked midnight sing-a-long of "Call Me A Baby", "Devour You" does what it says on the tin, with all the subtlety of Hollywood's finest, and perhaps even more entertainment value.