Thursday, 26 March 2020

Track of the Day: 'Pure Luxury' by NZCA Lines

This rather full on slice of synth-pop heralds the return of NZCA Lines, with a song about luxury, status and pursuing material wealth in the face of environmental catastrophe. Could it be any more relevant?

Over the course of 4 minutes it manages to cram in about three decades of pop references, somehow sounding like Prince, The Beach Boys and LCD Soundsystem all at once.

The track is out now on Memphis Industries and the band have announced a headline show at Heaven in London on October 28th.

Recommended music: 'Thug Ambient' by Dale Cornish

It's a weird kind of situation to be releasing new records into. Some acts have pushed theirs back (including Jarvis Cocker, which surprised me) while other have soldiered on, giving us some welcome distractions from the world around us. This new one from Londoner Dale Cornish came out a couple of weeks ago and I picked it up on Friday from Bandcamp when they were having their special day to support artists.

Over the course of its 11 tracks this is a pretty intense and occasionally brutal record, with few moments of calm. But I've found that to be a relief to be honest, there's only so long you can try and think happy thoughts and be gentle before you want to listen to something that's going to put up a fight, which is what this record does for me.

So then, how best to describe this album? I asked Dale and he said that 'this album...isn't worried about fitting into certain categories / tribal affiliations', which is just as well as it would be pretty hard to pigeonhole. I mean, you could say it sounds like New Order on a messy night out with Venetian Snares, or you could say it sounds like the 8-bit soundtrack to the most violent game of Mario Kart ever invented. But why bother? The best thing to do with this album is to just stick your head inside it and play it really LOUD, let it pound through your bones and drive the virus out of your system. I'm particularly keen on the last 4 tracks on the album but you can pretty much dive in anwhere and see what you think of it.

Cornish might have been called a 'thug' when he went to a gig aged 16 wearing trackies, but if this is the sound of him embracing that label then I'm all for it.

You can listen to the full album below, and if you feel inclined then buy a copy too.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Track of the Day: 'Atlas' by Bicep

Back with their first single since 2018, Bicep have released this powerful, brooding track which positively throbs with dark vibes. Calling to mind Four Tet, Aphex Twin and Underworld, it's sure to set dancefloors and gigs alight once we're all allowed to go back outside. Until then you'll just have to turn it up LOUD at home and dance on your own, isolation style.

'Atlas' will be released physically on Ninja Tune on April 2nd.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Recommended music: 'Mother' by Cold Beat

The fifth album from this San Franciscan sees them deliver a perfect mix of 80s nostalgia and 20s ennui. Seemingly tailor made for soundtracks and/or personal reminiscing, you could hear some of these tracks on 'Deutschland 83' or 'Stranger Things' and believe that they were originals for the time. Take 'Prism' for example, a driving synth and guitar slice of power pop with just the right level of disdain in the vocals.

'Gloves' pulls off the Gremanic cool so such great effect that you can picture the video had it been made in the 80s, all shiny pvc, smoke and fast cars. 'Pearls' meanwhile has that effortless simplicity that Vince Clarke always employed to great effect in his songs for Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasure.

Interestingly the songs here were written by singer Hannah Lew while she was pregnant, hence the title and the lyrics, which are designed to describe the Earth to a new visitor, be that a newborn child or an alien visitor.

You can listen to the whole album below, and if you like it then why not buy it? Musicians are struggling in the current crisis, not being able to tour and promote their records, so they need all the support you can give them.

Track of the Day: 'Martin' by Car Seat Headrest

The second track to appear from their forthcoming album 'Making A Door Less Open', this song sees Will Toledo's Car Seat Headrest in a relatively mellow mood. I'm assuming that the titular Martin is the narrator of the song, since he's singing about a guy called Justin. The introduction of a trumpet towards the end gives the song a different vibe to most Car Seat Headrest tracks, and makes me think the the new record will be even more diverse that I was expecting.

I'm not sure if the extreme protection and cleaning video was made before the coronavirus pandemic kicked in, or if it's a response to that, but it feels a bit too close to home for now - we need some escapism in these troubled times. But don't let that put you off listening to the song.

'Making A Door Less Open' is released on 1st May 2020.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Recommended music: 'Collector' by Disq

Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, new 5-piece guitar band Disq inhabit the same sort of spaces as Bodega, Fountains of Wayne and Weezer amongst others. There's some great melodies in here, along with some decently (or indecently) fuzzed guitars, some acoustic track, and even a bona fide pop song on 'Loneliness'.

Parts of some of these songs also remind me of the band XTC, in the way they're constructed and the rhythms they use, like for example on 'Fun Song 4', and there are also hints of Ben Folds on 'Gentle'.

 All of these influences combine in a record that sounds joyous and full of energy, as if it's designed to lift the spirits and propel you forward, while at the same time looking back through the nest bits of your record collection.

Like every other band Disq have had to cancel their forthcoming tours, so once you've listened to the full album below why not by a digital or physical copy from them? You know it;s the right thing to do.

Track of the Day: 'Pearls' by Cold Beat

Taken from their new album 'Mother', it's hard to believe that this track hasn't been stolen from the vaults of Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode / Yazoo / Erasure) and just spruced up a bit before being set free in 2020. It's the perfect mix of simplicity and melody, you could imagine it soundtracking a film or a tv series like Stranger Things.

I've only just come across this San Franscican band since they moved to DFA Records but apparently this is their fifth album so there's plenty more from them to check out!

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Track of the Day: 'Daily Routine' by Disq

I'm really into this track from the new Disq album 'Collector'. I'm a sucker for a song that changes pace and rhythm and this one does it more than once over the course of its 4 and a half minutes. The band are a five piece from Madison, Wisconsin and if you like this then I recommend you check out the whole album, which has strains of Bodega, Fountains of Wayne and Weezer among others.

Hopefully the band will make it somewhere near you on a tour when all of this coronavirus business is over.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Recommended music: 'Sixteen Oceans' by Four Tet

Since this record was released a week ago a lot of people have been saying that it's exactly the record we need right now. I'm not sure that releasing a record during a global pandemic is at all beneficial for an artist but I know for sure that it's helping me through these difficult times.

The best and most consistent album that Four Tet has released for a few years, this is a record that seems infused with solar energy. It's crisp and bright and uplifting, expertly produced with just the right mix of dancefloor fillers and reflective moments. The surprising appearance of Ellie Goulding on 'Baby', albeit chopped into pieces, feels like the most natural thing in the world after a couple of listens (and I guess after he sampled Nelly Furtado last year on 'Only Human' it's maybe not that much of a leap).

In an album full of great moments it's hard to isolate highlights, but for me 'Love Salad' is the best uptempo track on here, I love its rumbling groove and the array of keyboard sounds.

I'm really looking forward to listening to this on vinyl - apparently there was a manufacturing error and the original pressings had to be scrapped but I'm sure it'll be worth the wait. With this and the Caribou record released a couple of weeks ago it's already looking like a great year for electronic music (if nothing else). You can listen to the full album below.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Track of the Day: 'Tbilisi' by Nathan Fake

Sometimes all you really need in life is a decent electronic banger to get you out of your seat. This is particularly true of the times we're living in now, where if we're not careful many of us will just sit on out chairs and calcify while the lockdown kicks in.

Riding to the rescue is this chiming, pounding track from Nathan Fake. The first track to escape from his new album 'Blizzards', which is out next month via Cambria Instruments, it's a woozy dance track with a slight nod to rave culture and an insistent rhythmn. Can't wait for the album!

Recommended music: 'Suddenly' by Caribou

The fifth album from Dan Snaith's Caribou has recently been released and I'm starting to think it might be the best thing he's ever done. A couple of things before I start, which are going to sound like cliches but are particularly true of this record, The first is that despite the fact its and electroinc record the warmth of the re recordings really come through if you listen to it on vinyl. The second thing is that if it doesn't grab you on first listen you need to make sure you go back to it again and again. It might feel a little disjointed at first but over time the idiosyncrasies of the samples and production really start to burrow into your brain and meld together into a perfectly formed album

'Suddenly' certainly seems to be more diverse than previous Caribou albums - there are more samples (some of which you might expect to appear in Snaith's Daphni guise) and more variations in style and sound. There's even a couple of racks on here that, with different arrangements, could be lost 'Yacht Rock' classics, 'You and I' in particular.

I read in an interview that Snaith bounces a lot of his ideas off Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) who encouraged him to move forward with some of the tracks.It's great that Dan takes input like that and has used it to craft some of these songs, putting bits and pieces together to create a brilliant sounding record.

Hopefully we'll get the chance to hear this stuff live at some point; Caribou are always an enticing proposition for a night out. In the meantime give it a few listens and maybe buy a vinyl copy too.

'Suddenly' is out now on City Slang Records.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Recommended music: 'Sister' by Ultraísta

After a gap of 6 years the trio of Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Laura Bettinson are back with their second album 'Sister'. One of the things that's immediately noticeable about this record is the influence and input that Godrich must have on Thom Yorke / Atoms For Peace records, and Radiohead as well. Some of these tracks could easily be Atoms For Peace tracks with female vocals. Elsewhere there are a couple of songs that remind me of Polica, and a hint of Unloved in the singing too.

It all wraps together in an engaging sound that's part electronic beats, a few funky basslines and some woozy vocals and sounds. It's the sort of record that would be equally at home soundtracking a long drive in the sun, relaxing by the pool or a chilled night in a bar with some friends. The fact that we can't really do any of things at the moment shouldn't detract from the pleasure of listening to this music, it'll be good for your headspace. You can listen to the whole album below.