Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums, EPs and singles from The National, Alvvays, Lomelda, Ariel Pink, Lomelda, Nugget and loads more.
The National – Sleep Well Beast
08.09, 4AD | Buy
The National have made a name for themselves as evolutionary shifters, subtly refining their sound with each release. On Sleep Well Beast, they make their biggest leap so far, adding an electronic element to their well-honed formula.
Never ones to be idle, each member used time off after 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me to pursue their own projects, and the experiences seem to have rubbed off during recording. The beautiful ‘I’ll Still Destroy You’ is a perfection of the quirky style on Matt Berninger’s EL VY record, while the duelling guitars from ‘Turtleneck’ recall the heavy jams of the Devendorf brothers’ LNZNDRF project. Elsewhere, there are more traditional National songs, including ‘Dark Side of the Gym’, a dreamy ballad which culminates with a wash of strings, attributable to the Dessner brothers’ work on film scores.
Such a diverse mix of sounds could result in a sonic mismatch but the album is excellently paced, and tied together by Berninger’s lyrics of loss and separation. Once again, The National have proven themselves as one of the most consistent bands out there. Josh Price
Benjamin Clementine – I Tell A Fly
15.09, Universal Music France | Buy
Every syllable enunciated by Benjamin Clementine purveys a potent depth of emotion. His distinctive voice is an infinitely malleable instrument that delivers poignant lyricism throughout the album, at times with a sinister vehemence and at others with a delicate clarity. The sonic landscape Clementine crafts here is filled with rich, swirling layers and percussive bursts that sees the songwriter embracing his more characteristically classical compositions alongside an exploration of certain electronic sounds.
Addressing current issues of flight and displacement, the record’s narrative considers a common nomadism that unites us all in an “alien” status, and the result is a magnificent, unsettling, dramatic and ultimately infinitely intelligent second album. Kezia Cochrane
Lomelda – Thx
08.09, Double Double Whammy | Buy
“Wrap your arms around me, I’ll be still,” begins Lomelda’s latest offering drowsily, a statement of intent for the ensuing hazy indie-folk. The songs exist in that state of consciousness which wavers above and below the meniscus of sleep – abstract, impressionistic, unworldly. Enchantingly blurry, you ought to be caught by Lomelda’s fuzz.
‘Interstate Vision’ offers an uneasy view of the highway, where “headlights scare me into visions”, whereas ‘Out There’ is on edge because “we all sit in darkness, waiting.” ‘Boom Sha Klam’ and ‘From Here’ even have a downtempo Cardigans feel. Thx is a stark strum; you really hear fingers on frets, yet ‘Nvr’ rumbles like a supertanker engine room. Jon Kean
Swimming Tapes – Soft Sea Blue
15.09, B3SCI Records | Buy
If you’re looking for breezy sun-kissed melodies, then Swimming Tapes’ second EP does not disappoint. Promising a collection of tunes which brim with cheerful vibes, Soft Sea Blue epitomizes the very feeling of summer. It’s light, carefree and airy. With just four tracks, the rising band have musically illustrated the seemingly infinite energy of the season.
Stand-out track, ‘What’s On Your Mind’, pairs slow-bluesy riffs with upbeat vocals to form a truly chilled anthem. If there’s one thing these guys know how to do, it’s create their own distinct aura. They clearly understand how they want listeners to feel with each track, and it’s translated flawlessly. Catrin Bishop
Rostam – Half Light
15.09, Nonesuch | Buy
You may know Rostam Batmanglij as the former member of New York art-rock group Vampire Weekend, but Half Light is about so much more than that. It’s an experimental affair flirting with a myriad of sounds, be it the jarred drums on ‘Don’t Let It Get To You’ or urgent violins on ‘Gwan’.
What binds the album isn’t the sounds, but the resounding acceptance of what it means to be different in the world around us, especially in the fuzzy electro rush of ‘Bike Dream’. Having such vivid sonic variety on an album is difficult, but Batmanglij has delivered a sophisticated set of arty pop numbers destined to outdance difference. Oliver Evans
Alvvays – Antisocialites
08.09, Polyvinyl | Buy
Following on from their self-titled debut, Alvvays’ sophomore effort continues with the same formula of jangly guitar pop. Opening with the Camera Obscura-esque single ‘In Undertow’ the album borrows from thirty years of upbeat yet melancholy indie. Potential singles such as ‘Plimsoll Punks’ and ‘Your Type’ are full of hooks and buzzsaw guitars which would not sound out of place on NME’s C86 compilation.
Antisocialites is poppier and more upbeat than its predecessor but nothing here matches the breezy catchiness of 2014 single ’Archie, Marry Me’. Fans of indie pop classicism will enjoy this album despite the Toronto band staying well within the confines of an already over subscribed genre. Tim Ellis
Protomartyr – Relatives in Descent
29.09, Domino | Buy
Protomartyr’s new album adopts frontman Joe Casey’s dead-eyed, hand-in-pocket approach to life and the results are absolutely on point. It very much continues the anxious and intense sounds heard on The Agent Intellect. It’s a record happy to revel in a state of gaunt utero in murky, melodic depths before plunging into a more frantic territory.
Second track ‘Here Is The Thing’ sees Casey fire out a desperate and ill-sounding bunch of vocals recalling the likes of Ought’s ‘Men For Miles’. It’s certainly a piece of work that’s confused and pissed off at the world, yet once again, they’ve channeled it into pure musical brilliance. Rhys Buchanan
Prawn – Run
22.09, Topshelf | Buy
Prawn’s third album took two years to compose, but was recorded in what sounds like the most intense two weeks imaginable – in an old church beside a New Jersey lake. All rather apt that it examines 21st Century alienation and isolation, with portentous bass and Explosions in the Sky guitars it blends post-rock with punk pop.
‘North Lynx’ broods, “I’m all out of everything”, its tumultuous finish sounding like a butterfly metamorphosing into a dragon. ‘Rooftops’ laments time-wasting, monotony and homogeneity, whilst ‘Hunter’ seeks absolution – “There’s good will in my devil’s skin.” Although songs address confusion and stasis, Run sounds thrillingly restless, energetic, naked – Prawn with a capital ‘RAW’. Jon Kean
Ariel Pink – Dedicated to Bobby Jameson
15.09, Mexican Summer | Buy
Ariel Pinkís eleventh studio album, the second using his name only, pays homage to Bobby Jameson, an obscure Californian singer/songwriter who rose to long-forgotten fame in 2007 after a brief stint in 1965, when he released an album, Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest under the pseudonym Chris Ducey. Written during a residency in Marfa, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is pure Ariel Pink, with a tracklist switching between complex songs, made of cut-and-paste space age instrumentation, vintage sounds, and grand ballads, including a collaboration with Dam Funk. Nothing has really changed in Pinkís musical universe, bar an attempt at storytelling via a concept album ñ this is a stillness that sounds great. Guia Cortassa
Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun
01.09, Rock Action | Buy
In re-hiring their old Come on Die Young and Rock Action producer Dave Fridmann, Mogwai, in some respects, return to their classic turn of the century fare: tense builds and moving crescendos (‘Crossing the Road Material’), furious yet disciplined thrashes (‘20 Size’) and aquiline guitar figures custom built for unease (‘aka47’).
Not that Every Country’s Sun is a throwback, however. Few have so ably combined approachable melodies and insistent beats with the lofty inclinations of post-rock. ‘Party in the Dark’ is as close to a pop tune as you’re likely to find from Mogwai, whereas ‘1000 Foot Face’ reimagines New Order’s ‘Your Silent Face’ with updated technology, but the same looming heartache. Jon Clark
Sløtface – Try Not To Freak Out
15.09, Propeller Recordings | Buy
Having changed their name (originally: Slutface), Norwegian punk pop group Sløtface have lost none of their monstrous momentum as they continue to shred the live scene as we know it. With several singles under their belts now too, the four-piece emerge with an incredibly buoyant debut album, Try Not To Freak Out.
From the socially-conscious ‘Magazine’, to the youthful energy of ‘Pitted’, to a hero’s tribute in the form of ‘Nancy Drew’, there’s more than a whiff of originality and honesty, further backed by razor sharp guitars and punchy vocals throughout. Holding nothing back, this album shows heaps of potential – it can only get better for Sløtface. Mustafa Mirreh
Nugget – Demos
17.09, Breakfast Records | Buy
Bristol’s Nugget brings four nurturing tracks with this modest yet striking cassette. There’s no hiding behind anything here – this is Emily Isherwood shining alone with lyrical wit and intimacy. The self-production gives an impacting and honest quality; in many ways it feels like you’re sat in the same hushed room.
‘When The Half Moon Strobes’ opens with a gentle strumming and chooses its words with much attention to detail, while final track ‘Arcade’, recorded live in Isherwoods’ back garden, has actual birdsong to effortlessly add to the song’s emotive points. While this is a short first release, its carefully curated tracks prove how much potential this project really has. Rhys Buchanan