Audacity : Butter Knife

Fullerton, California’s Audacity have been plugging away at their particular brand of party punk for almost a decade now, and third LP Butter Knife, out now via Seattle’s Suicide Squeeze label, is proof that they have pretty much perfected the art. Having recently been asked to play the part of King Tuff’s backing band, it’s safe to say their contemporaries share that view but their reputation as one of the scene’s tightest, most professional outfits doesn’t mean they’ve lost their jagged edge; they may have left the garage they started out in, but the garage hasn’t left them, as the Weezer pop melodies and Replacements scuzz of tracks like “Hole In The Sky” (below) attest.

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Son Lux : Lanterns

Lanterns

Ryan Lott’s CV reads a bit like that of the lead character in some quirky rom-com: a classically trained pianist who spent his post-grad years writing music for TV adverts and dance companies, once signed to outsider hip hop label Anticon, a pair of critically acclaimed albums under his belt, along with live performances with highbrow icons such as Nico Muhly, Phillip Glass and Laurie Anderson and studio collaborations with indie luminaries like These New Puritans, Sufjan Stevens and rapper Serengeti. Moderately successful but still working various day jobs (most notably as sound designer for last year’s smart time travel blockbuster Looper), Lott has often seemed – to the casual observer – stuck in an awkward grey area, frustratingly close to “the big time” but not quite in a position to wholeheartedly say he was living the dream. That could be about to change, however, with the release of his third full-length as Son Lux: if there’s any justice in the world, the wondrous Lanterns – out now via Joyful Noise – would bring about Lott’s Hollywood moment, where he tells his emotionally unsupportive boss to shove his lousy job and the world finally gets to hear his music and he sells a million records and saves the day and – hell – most likely gets the girl too. For although much of the album is built upon a foundation of ornate orchestral chamber pop not unlike that which dominated previous efforts, Lanterns also contains a number of tougher, more forceful tracks that mark Lott’s transition from polite, unassuming everyman to confident, gifted go-getter. Lead single “Lost It To Trying” (below) fuses explosive live and programmed drums, shimmering flutes, insistent saxophone blasts and choral voices, treading a fine line between refined and raucous, equal parts brain and brawn; “No Crimes” could have been a headlong punk rush in another life, transposed here for rattling percussion and furiously bowed strings, whilst “Pyre” simmers quietly for a minute before bubbling over in a froth of flatulent synths and steamrolling electro beats. Of course these elements are nothing new in Son Lux’s music, but this time around the arrangements are more focused, with every sound serving a purpose; indeed, for all its occasional bombast one of Lanterns’ highlights, “Easy“, consists of little more than looped piano, lurching horns and a multi-tracked slow handclap keeping time. More accessible, more economical, more enjoyable than his earlier work, Lanterns is the album that deserves to propel Lott into the experimental/ neo-classical/ indie/ electro/ pop big leagues; check it out over at NPR.

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20 recommendations

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Here we go again… Lots of great stuff around at the minute that I won’t get chance to cover in any kind of detail, so here are 20 recent and soon to be released albums that I’m liking and in some cases loving. As usual, no links and no waffle. Just check out the sample tracks below, and if you like any of what you hear it’s up to you to find out more. Enjoy.
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Cut Copy Free Your Mind (Modular)

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Leverage Models Leverage Models (Hometapes)

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DJ Rashad Double Cup (Hyperdub)

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Drake Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money/ Young Money)

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Cass McCombs Big Wheel & Others (Domino)

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Unicorn Hard-On Weird Universe (Spectrum Spools)

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Doomriders Grand Blood (Deathwish Inc.)

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Courtney Barnett The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas (Milk)

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Circuit Des Yeux Overdue (Ba Da Bing)

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D/P/I Fresh Roses (Chance Images)

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Fire! Without Noticing (Rune Grammofon)

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Daniel Avery Drone Logic (Phantasy)

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Special Request Soul Music (Houndstooth)

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Pusha T My Name Is My Name (G.O.O.D. Music)

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Ejecta Dominae (Driftless)

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World’s End Press World’s End Press (Liberation Music)

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Mutation Error 500 (Ipecac)

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Ryan Hemsworth Guilt Trips (Last Gang)

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Laurel Halo Chance Of Rain (Hyperdub)

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Moonface Julia With Blue Jeans On (Jagjaguwar)

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Corrections House : Last City Zero

The word “supergroup” is tossed around so freely nowadays that it inevitably fails to inspire the same kind of awe it used to back in rock’s ’70s halcyon days; kudos, then, to Corrections House, who have elected not to describe themselves as such, despite being better qualified to use the term than most. Instead the quartet – Neurosis‘ Scott Kelly, Eyehategod vocalist Mike IX Williams, Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Sanford Parker, who as well as playing in Nachtmystium, Minsk and Twilight has produced some of the most important metal albums of recent years – have gone with “end times collaboration”, an equally apt account of the apocalyptically heavy noise they are creating together. Last City Zero, the project’s debut full-length release (out October 28 via Neurot Recordings), is pretty much exactly what you would hope for from such a union, each player bringing just enough of their respective bands’ DNA to the table for their influence to be subtle rather than overpowering, with hardcore punk bleeding into tar-thick sludge, electro-acoustic post-rock soundscapes colliding with industrial body music and even (on the title track) sparsely-accompanied Rollins-style spoken word. It all comes together perfectly on epic opener “Serve Or Survive” (below): a funereal, Sabbath-esque riff rings out through the fog of Lamont’s sax and FX, swelling into a storm of serrated guitars, squalling electronics and Williams’ razor-throated howl before shifting gear as Parker’s piston-powered death-disco groove stomps its way to the foreground. That the group manage to maintain the track’s insane momentum over the following 40-odd minutes is nothing short of astounding, but from the brutish thrash of “Bullets And Graves” to the maximalist grind of ten-minute closer “Drapes Hung By Jesus”, via robot battle marches (“Party Leg And Three Fingers”, “Dirt Poor And Mentally Ill”), atmospheric outlaw country (“Run Through The Night“) and queasy jazz-noir (“Hallows Of The Stream”) there is no let up from the relentless cyclone of intense, aggressive malevolence. Regardless of whether they’re a “supergroup” or simply a super group, Corrections House have made a super album that transcends genre tags and stands as one of the year’s best.

Gardland : Syndrome Syndrome

Alex Murray and Mark Smith, the two Sydney-dwellers that make up electronic production duo Gardland, claim to have met during a 10-day “psychedelic desert excursion” into the outback, so it stands to reason that Syndrome Syndrome – their debut LP, out October 28 via RVNG Intl – feels like an appropriate soundtrack to a chemically-enhanced weekend spent hallucinating poisonous spiders during the day and performing tribal dance rituals around a blazing campfire by night. Syndrome Syndrome reflects the current fondness within the electronic community for lo-fi, blown out beats but under the layers of grit and gristle are some seriously impressive old-skool braindance vibes, with ghostly Autechre-like melodies and ping-ponging polyrhythms strobing frenetically through steely industrial techno frameworks. Muscular but emotive, it’s as much of a trip as the experience that inspired it, and up there with the label’s other recent output – Blondes, Maxmillion Dunbar, Stellar Om Source – among the best electronic releases of the year; check out “Magicville” below.

The Wave Pictures : City Forgiveness

Listening to City Forgiveness, Loughborough-via-London trio The Wave Pictures‘ latest long-player (their eleventh in total – I think? – in less than a decade), it is at once hard to believe they have never really made it big in indie-rock circles and easy to see why. Frontman Dave Tattersall’s charming, clever, witty and often moving songs recall Morrissey and Daniel Johnston, Jens Lekman and Jonathan Richman, making them fairly obvious objects of affection for NME readers and the hipper Pitchfork faithful alike, yet the band have always seemed happily stuck in something of a stylistic rut, producing album after album of twee, chug-along bedroom indie-pop as if nobody had found it in their heart to break the news that John Peel was no longer around to play them on the radio. City Forgiveness is no great leap forward in that respect, but as unassuming as it may be the sheer size and consistent quality of the 20-track, 90 minute double-LP set really hammers home just what a great band The Wave Pictures are: drafted in the back of a van driving from show to show during a six-week American tour last year and completed in “a jet-lagged state” upon their return, these songs are all of the highest standard, without a duff tune or a hint of filler among them. With so many subjects covered, it’s like Christmas come early for fans of Tattersall’s lyrics. On “Before This Day” he describes his earliest childhood memory, effortlessly combining the mundane (“Dad is painting window frames at the top of the house/ Mum steadies the ladder with a slippered foot“) and the magical (“I run through grass that has grown tall above my head/ I am a million miles away“), whilst quirky love song “Missoula” similarly juxtaposes the sublime and the ridiculous, the singer crooning “You’ve got a cute way of talking/ You make me feel like dancing/ Naked across the motel room/ My beer belly bouncing in the afternoon“; “Red Cloud Road (Part 2)”, meanwhile, not only demonstrates Tattersall’s knack for suggestive scene-setting (“I had been hanging around in bars, singing slightly out of tune/ My teeth shone so brightly in those places, it looked like I’d swallowed the moon“) but also his ability to twist old cliches into smart new shapes (“If I had an aeroplane, I would fly through the sky I would write your name/ In mile-high letters to better the blue sky with a mention of your presence“). Equally important, though, is the musicianship displayed by all three members of the band. It’s a rare thing these days for a record to remind you of the immense joy to be found in a band simply clicking and playing brilliantly together, but Tattersall, Franic Rozycki (bass) and Jonny Helm (drums) here transform Velvet Underground-inspired three-chord rockers into engaging and occasionally hypnotic jams, adding subtle rhythmic flair (nods to African pop and South American traditional dance styles) and using the extended song durations to fit in dozens of genuinely thrilling guitar solos, allowing Tattersall to indulge his inner Johnny Marr/ Mark Knopfler/ Marc Ribot/ Ebo Taylor. This is a band seemingly unconcerned with being “cool” or “relevant”, and whilst that is a quality worth celebrating their comparative lack of success so far shows up the music industry for the piss-poor show it is: put simply, City Forgiveness is a glorious album, and one that truly deserves the wider recognition The Wave Pictures have yet to acheive.

City Forgiveness is out now via Moshi Moshi; check out “Lisbon” below, and try the whole thing before you buy via The Line Of Best Fit

Sandro Perri : Spaced Out

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Toronto’s Sandro Perri was responsible for one of my favourite albums of 2011 (Impossible Spaces) and one of the best sets I saw at Primavera the following year, but HEY! Let’s stop living in the past! NOW is where it’s at, and right now (literally RIGHT NOW) Perri has new music (well, kinda new music) out for you to fall in love with: completing a series that has also seen releases on the DFA and Phonica labels, Constellation Records have just put out a 22-minute EP featuring remixes of three of Impossible Spaces‘ finest moments. The appropriately titled Spaced Out finds the glorious “Wolfman” reimagined as a swarm of looped drones by Le Révélateur (Roger Tellier-Craig of Fly Pan Am/ Pas Chic Chic) and “How Will I” transformed into a cut ‘n’ paste abstract jazz-house collage by Japanese producer Imugem Orihasam; the highlight, however, comes in the form of a distinctly dancefloor-friendly rework of “Love & Light” from Larry Gus that apparently employs over 500 samples extracted from the original song’s stems. Check it out below.

The Range : Nonfiction

25 year-old Pennsylvania native James Hinton relocated to Providence, Rhode Island after graduating from Brown in 2010 and immediately set to work crafting wonderfully idiosyncratic bedroom electronica as The Range, debuting with The Big Dip a year later. New album Nonfiction is one of 2013’s best releases – if not exactly the biggest: it’s out now digitally (and on vinyl October 28) through Brighton, England’s Donky Pitch label – and one that’s definitely worth tracking down if you like your pop to be dancefloor friendly and your techno with brains as well as beats. Influenced equally by US (hip hop, Detroit techno, Chicago footwork) and UK (grime, jungle) club music, Hinton has crafted an LP that never stays in the same place too long but still manages to sound impressively coherent; playfully psychedelic, and with samples of MCs and vocalists ripped surreptitiously from YouTube, it’s akin to a less twee Go! Team or Four Tet if he was more concerned with booty than beauty. Listen to album closer “Metal Swing” below, and stream the whole record courtesy of Dazed Digital.

Happy Jawbone Family Band

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Earlier this year the ever-reliable Mexican Summer label introduced us to Brattleboro, Vermont’s Happy Jawbone Family Band with Tastes The Broom, a primer of sorts compiling older material from their already bursting catalogue that found glimpses of twisted genius hiding among the kind of freewheeling, ramshackle fare one would expect from a group that had self-recorded somewhere in the region of 100 songs since forming in 2009. With their new eponymous LP (out October 15) the group have taken a sharp right, enlisting producer Jarvis Taverniere (Woods) to wipe away the DIY tape hiss and open up their sound, giving Happy Jawbone Family Band the feel of a “version 2.0” debut album; without sacrificing the experimental leanings or kookiness in their songwriting, Taverniere and the five-piece have beefed up and spit-polished these weird-pop nuggets into something vaguely resembling “classic” rock. Employing boy/ girl harmonies, violin, horns, harp and electric mandolin to loosely bind together indie, folk, country and pop stylings, tracks like “Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid'” and the singalong “D-R-E-A-M-I-N” imagine Syd Barrett hitting the lonesome cowboy trail or the Archies as covered by Camper Van Beethoven respectively; elsewhere slacker icons Pavement are recalled with sloppy takes on easy listening swing (“Do You Want Me”) and ’60s R&B (“Mr. Clean”), whilst the droning, slightly sinister “I’ll Never Go Skin Deep Again” sounds like The Fall tackling the Velvets’ “Venus In Furs”. It’s a warm, fuzzy album, with even its frailer (“Stay At Home Soldier“) and more melancholy numbers (“I Don’t Wanna Dance Tonight”, the shimmering “That Green Light”) infused with surrealist imagery and benefitting greatly from Francis Carr’s woody croon, and whilst it wears its influences on its sleeve Happy Jawbone Family Band is a record whose quirky, loveable personality shines through at all times; listen to opener “Everybody Knows About Daddy” below.
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Track of the day : David Bowie : Love Is Lost # Hello Steve Reich mix by James Murphy for the DFA

Listen: James Murphy Remixes David Bowie's

For a guy that seemed to be looking forward to semi-retirement just a couple years ago, James Murphy is certainly managing to keep himself in the limelight, producing for Pulp and Arcade Fire and now offering up a ten-minute remix of “Love Is Lost”, a track from David Bowie‘s excellent comeback album The Next Day. Referencing Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music” (hence the subtitle), as well as Murphy’s previous work (and, at the 6:24 mark, the Thin White Duke’s own classic “Ashes To Ashes”) the makeover not only serves as a reminder of Bowie’s influence on LCD Soundsystem, but also of Murphy’s skills as a producer: as proved recently with “After You” and “Reflektor” – and in the past with The Rapture, Free Energy and countless others – the DFA boss seems to know instinctively what brave new direction, be it dance music, glam rock or avant garde minimalism, will best suit his charges. There’s a pretty obvious joke to be made about Murphy not losing his edge, but I’m not gonna be the one to make it; instead I’m just going to concentrate really hard and try to will a “real” studio collaboration between Bowie and Murphy into existence sometime in the near future. The remix will appear on a 3-disc expanded edition of The Next Day, due November 5 via Columbia; check it out below.