Unknown Mortal Orchestra : II

Despite resisting the temptation to clean up the more lo-fi aspects of their sound, New Zealand/ Portland trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra have sensibly identified their strengths and, on their second album – and Jagjaguwar debut – II, play to them beautifully. Led by former Mint Chicks frontman Ruban Nielson, the group have an uncanny knack for instantly addictive hooks and irresistable grooves and on tracks like “Swim And Sleep (Like A Shark)”, below, and “So Good At Being In Trouble” they strike gold right from the off and then hit repeat, spinning each riff and melody into hypnotic, psychedelic jams. If – like me – you’re the kind of sad case that keeps a rolling “albums of the year” list, II will doubtless be one that starts off high and spends the next eleven months vying for the top spot; more varied than its predecessor, with garage-y nuggets that nod to Nielson’s punk past rubbing shoulders with soulful slow-burners and motorik Krautrockers, it’s a huge step up that still feels effortless. You can stream the album in full ahead of its February 5 release over at NPR.

Bonobo : Cirrus

UK musician/ producer/ DJ Simon Green, better known as Bonobo, is set to release his fifth album The North Borders via Ninja Tune in April. First single “Cirrus” is pitched midway between the two styles for which he is most renowned – jazzy trip hop and chilled house – and features a hypnotic, chiming motif that fits in nicely with dance music’s current obsession with bells. It also comes with a tricksy, trippy video courtesy of Cyriak; peep it below.

Night Marchers : Allez Allez

To fans of new-school punk rock & roll John “Speedo” Reis is something of a legend: having played starring roles in such critically-adored outfits as Drive Like Jehu, Rocket From The Crypt and Hot Snakes his well-earned reputation precedes him and as such Allez Allez – the second album from his latest project Night Marchers – comes highly anticipated. It doesn’t disappoint. Over the course of twelve balls-to-the-wall riot anthems, Reis and friends -Hot Snakes bandmates Gar Wood and Jason Sinclair plus CPC Gangbangs’ Thomas Kitsos – thunder like thawed-out, speed-addled Neanderthals from one career touchstone to another: the Snakes’ angular riffage, Jehu’s hardcore muscle and the burning soul of the RFTC good time revue, all topped off with bright, brash pop melodies and attitude to spare. The album’s out now on Reis’ Swami Records label; listen to “All Hits” below.

The Knife : Full Of Fire

sth-cover[1]

There’s been a lot of hype directed at avant-electronic duo The Knife these past few days; firstly their new single “Full Of Fire” leaked online – albeit in the form of a frustrating preview stream that could only be listened to in bite-size segments – then the accompanying video (below) appeared, only to disappear again just as quickly. Now we know that the Swedish siblings’ fourth LP proper (the follow-up to 2006’s beloved Silent Shout) Shaking The Habitual will be an almost 100-minute long double disc set, and – lo and behold – the video has resurfaced. Billed as “a short film by Marit Ostberg” (and at just shy of ten minutes, that’s a fair description), it’s decidedly NSFW imagery is a perfect fit for the track’s brutal, twisted techno, but be warned: it’s not for the squeamish or easily offended. You can download the song now; Shaking The Habitual is out April 8 via Rabid/ Brille/ Mute.

Buke And Gase : General Dome

We all know the importance of creativity in art; if punk taught us one thing it’s that when trying out something different, an original concept trumps poor execution almost every time. Of course, if you can couple ideas and ability, all the better. For progressive folk-pop experimentalists Buke And Gase  – Aron Sanchez and Arone Dyer – simply working out new chord progressions, or time signatures, or combinations of melody and harmony is evidently not enough of a challenge: in their relentless pursuit of originality the pair have taken to designing and building their own instruments, two of which – a six-string baritone ukulele (buke) and a guitar-bass hybrid (gase) – form the basis of their sound and provide the duo with their stage name. Second album General Dome (out January 29 via Brassland) draws inspiration from escape – from New York City to upstate Hudson and from their previous cramped basement studio to a larger, more open studio space – and whilst it includes some of B&G’s most concise, pop-savvy writing to date, the freedom afforded by the geographical shift is evident in the bang and clatter of unrestrained creativity; most of the record’s percussion, for example, seems to be stomped out on the kind of foot-operated, “one man band” bass drum/ bells/ cymbal contraption you see strapped to the backs of solo street performers, whilst the aforementioned stringed instruments are played hard and loud through various hand-made amps and effects pedals. They’ve even invented their own symbol-based alphabet, featured on the album’s artwork (above), for all you amateur code-crackers to decipher, proving that creative minds are never truly at rest. Listen to the title track below, and stream the whole record over at NPR.

Kvelertak : Bruane Brenn

OK Foamies, I’m in something of a quandary. Norse rock gods Kvelertak are heading to the UK in March, and will be playing not too far away from me. My issue is that none of my real-life buds can stomach any kind of heavy music, and although my beautiful wife usually accompanies me to gigs – even when she doesn’t know or like the band – she’ll be nearly seven months pregnant by then and most likely in no fit state to stand for two hours surrounded by sweaty, moshing metalheads. Which leaves me with a dilemma: I really don’t feel ready to become that guy, the one that goes to concerts alone, but then – if “Bruane Brenn”, the first single from the Norwegians’ forthcoming Kurt Ballou-produced sophomore album Meir is anything to go by – do I really want to miss this rare opportunity? Featuring the same riotous mix of hardcore, punk, black metal and glam rock that made their eponymous 2010 debut such an irresistable, good time rollercoaster ride, this adrenaline-soaked anthem would suggest not. Meir is out March 26 via the sextet’s new label Roadrunner, and if you happen to be at Corporation in Sheffield on the evening of March 7, I guess I’ll be the guy stood at the back on his own, grinning like a fool.

.

Teith : Humboldt Park

Teith’s debut album Humboldt Park is something of a double-edged sword, in that no matter how much it leaves you wanting more – and it’s quite likely that it will – you already know that won’t happen: the Chicago quartet actually split back in 2010, meaning that aside from their 2010 three-track Oak City EP the five tracks here are all you’re ever gonna get. Still, the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long and as legacies go this is pretty impressive. Featuring Pelican’s Trevor De Brauw, whose Migration Media imprint will release the LP on January 29, the group have pulled off a feat few instrumental heavy rock bands – Slint, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pelican (natch) – manage: they’ve made an interesting and unpredictable record that blends melodic shoegaze guitars, lumbering bass, industrial synths and electronic noise into a dark but delirious concoction that invites comparisons with the likes of Swans and Nine Inch Nails. “Table Of Tourettes” is below, and you can hear some other tracks from the album – as well as a new solo number – at De Brauw’s Soundcloud page.

Lost Animal : Ex Tropical

Track artwork

On January 29 Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art will give a worldwide release to the acclaimed 2011 debut LP from Melbourne’s Lost Animal. To all intents and purposes the handiwork of former St. Helens frontman Jarrod Quarrell, Ex Tropical‘s strange mix of lo-fi, distorted synths and off-kilter drum machine rhythms make for an intoxicating queasy-listening session that owes as much to the primitive brutality of electro-punks Suicide as it does to the highbrow gothic storytelling of fellow Aussie Nick Cave. Listen to “Say No To Thugs” below, and stream the whole album over at SPIN.

Disclosure : White Noise ft. AlunaGeorge

Track artwork

When Disclosure uploaded their new single “White Noise” to their Soundcloud page on Monday night, the song clocked over 50,000 listens in under three hours; as of writing this less than 48 hours later, that figure sits at over 250,000, with nearly 700 positive comments from impressed fans. If everyone that has visited that page were to pre-order a physical copy of the single – out February 17 on PMR Records – the Lawrence brothers could singlehandedly keep HMV afloat for another few months. The track (below) features Aluna Francis, vocalist with that other hotly-tipped Brit duo AlunaGeorge, and whilst the hype surrounding both acts and their eagerly anticipated forthcoming debut albums has no doubt contributed to its instant, immense popularity, there’s no getting away from the cold hard facts: it’s a fantastic pop song with “club hit” written all over it and mainstream appeal in spades.

Tomahawk : Oddfellows

Cover for  - Oddfellows

Metalheads of a certain age will surely be rejoicing as Faith No More/ Helmet/ Jesus Lizard/ Melvins supergroup Tomahawk return on January 29 with their fourth LP Oddfellows for the Ipecac label. Formed by Mr. Bungle/ Fantomas frontman Mike Patton two years after FNM’s 1998 split with Lizard guitarist Duane Denison and Helmet (and now Battles) drummer John Stanier, and now featuring Melvins bassist and regular Patton sideman Trevor Dunn, the group have been on hiatus for the last six years and whilst none of the members have been sitting on their hands during that time, it’s certainly good to have them back together again. Watch the video for comeback single “Stone Letter” below, and stream the album in full over at SPIN.