Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums from Modern Baseball, YAK, Beth Orton and Marissa Nadler as well as local treats from Oliver Wilde, Two White Cranes and Gorgeous Bully.
Check out the playlist and read more below:
Oliver Wilde – Long Hold Star; An Infinite Abduction
6th May – Howling Owl
Little did we know that when Oliver Wilde dropped a surprise single, a whole EP would follow very soon after – but he’s kind of like that.
The eight-track EP is the first proper release we’ve had from him since his sophomore album and, where he’s often seemed introverted, opener ‘Echolalia’ sets the EP apart, with expansive sounds that fill your entire head. There are more surprises elsewhere, notably ‘Blit Scratch’, which evolves into something nearing a pop song, full of bouncy synths and scattering drums, but retaining Wilde’s signature muggy haze. ‘I Was Nice’ is a surprise on the other end of the spectrum; a lo-fi number containing, for the most part, just Wilde and an acoustic guitar. It’s wonderfully sparse, allowing us to hear him at his most vulnerable. All in all, it’s a beautiful release from an artist who is blossoming in a world of his own. Christian Northwood
Beth Orton – Kidsticks
27th May – Anti | Buy
Marking the sixth studio album from California-based folktronica musician Beth Orton, ‘Kidsticks’ boasts a plethora of collaborations, resulting in an infectious yet subtly palliative ten-track release. While it is evident that ‘Kidsticks’ strays a considerable amount from the Norfolk singer-songwriter’s earlier releases, Orton’s vocals remain mesmerising throughout, fusing together a series of electronic loops and haunting synths.
This new release (and direction) is undoubtedly an acquired taste, but particular highlights such as ‘Petals’ or ‘Dawnstar’ – where soft beats and melancholic undertones meet intensely emotive vocal work – alongside the Cure-esque ‘Corduroy Legs’ effortlessly ensure a worthy listen. Kelly Ronaldson
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
13th May – Run For Cover Records
Modern Baseball’s recent documentary ‘Tripping In The Dark’ tells of the chaotic and almost disastrous run-up to the release of their third album ‘Holy Ghost’. Guitarist and co-songwriter Brendan Lukens’ struggles with mental health issues, including a suicide attempt which happened mere days before the band started recording the album, have led the band to their most urgent and vital material yet.
‘Holy Ghost’ feels like therapy personified, with lines like “it’s time to confront this face to face” on closer ‘Just Another Face’ coming as representative of the whole album. Modern Baseball had many demons to confront on ‘Holy Ghost’ and, by doing so, they’ve written an album that’s inspirationally real. Will Richards
Two White Cranes / Try The Pie – Tour split
21st April – Tuff Enuff Records
To celebrate the pair heading out on a UK tour this month, Bristol’s Two White Cranes and California’s Try The Pie have come together for a split tape on Tuff Enuff Records. The highlight of Try The Pie’s side of the split comes in the form of ‘Flood or Drought’, a delicate and affecting number, advising to never be fooled by failure – “it won’t ever matter”.
Two White Cranes’ tracks showcase gorgeous, breathy backing vocals, replacing the more aggressive bass and drums of recent LP ‘Radisson Blue’. The two sides of this split complement each other perfectly, dual examples of wonderful lo-fi folk from both sides of the Atlantic. Will Richards
Something Anorak / Gorgeous Bully – Split
27th May – Art is Hard
One of the highlights of this year’s saturated Record Store Day list, Bristol’s Something Anorak and Manchester’s Gorgeous Bully have converged (via the ever-brilliant Art Is Hard Records) for a split release that shows both acts’ clear progression between albums. Gorgeous Bully are up to bat first, with fuzzy opener ‘Beaucoup’ proving the highlight of the whole split.
Something Anorak are grittier and less sunny, but with an aggression that’s infectious. ‘Shake Fist At Sky’ feels wild and unhinged, while closer ‘My Kid’ thrashes between loud and quiet and never sits still. With brilliant variety across its four tracks, here is a split that truly thrives on its differences. Will Richards
Mutual Benefit – Skip a Sinking Stone
20th May – Transgressive | Buy
‘Skip a Sinking Stone’ is the expansive, fuller return that Mutual Benefit fans had hoped for; or at least starts off that way. The lush first half details the joy of touring life, but anyone with a longing for freedom can relate here. Strings interweave with vibraphone on ‘Lost Dreamers’ as Lee croons: “We can see stars from the Earth, why would we go back anywhere”.
This however contrasts sharply with the weary side ‘B’, set in NYC and which drags into a dull slumber only woken by the principle narrative returning on closer ‘The Hereafter’. The disparity conveys the album’s message well but unfortunately makes this a very top heavy release. Joshua Price
TWIN – Hverir
May 25th – Z A M Z A M R E C
As surreal an experience as the geothermal site it is named after, ‘Hverir’ turns the impalpable into sounds so thick with emotion, that they are almost tangible.
TWIN is Bristol-based Christelle Atenstaedt’s creation and this, her first EP, is raw with ethereal energy. Inspired by dreams, visions and fantasy, its mystical, electronic composition of synths, guitars and chimes and the manipulation of her haunting vocals provide a feeling that really is quite transcendental. It is as if each of the six tracks places you in a new and otherworldly experience, forming the sensational backdrop for your walk through space and time and providing a personal and spiritual feast for the imagination. Cat Eeles
Twin Peaks – Down In Heaven
13th May – Grand Jury | Buy
Who said rock‘n’roll is dead? It’s been passed onto the next generation, and notably to Chicago youngsters Twin Peaks. They’re barely old enough to drink, but already their infectious and somewhat sleazy rock sounds have captured the hearts of many.
Recorded last summer in true DIY fashion, new album ‘Down In Heaven’ brings a whirlwind of emotions and stories that reflect on the band’s journey in such a short time. ‘Walk to the One You Love’, with its 60s guitars, warm rhythms and shimmering charms, will have fans and new listeners alike hooked in seconds. It’s an album that screams youth, independence and living life to the full. Mustafa Mirreh
Yak – Alas Salvation
13th May – Octopus Electrical/Kobalt
The steaming sounds of 60s/70s rock, soaked in modern-day grunge couldn’t be more apparent on Yak’s stonking debut album ‘Alas Salvation’. But the question that everyone wants to know is: does the band’s insanely ferocious live show channel across on record?
The simple answer is yes, as standouts ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘Curtain Twitcher’ and ‘Doo Wah’ prove with their hard-hitting drums, grinding riffs and all the outbursts you’d expect. Yak might not be everyone’s favourite, but listening to their toxic stabs of insanity would bring anyone down to their knees… Rough around the edges, but unquestionably a triumph. Mustafa Mirreh
Marissa Nadler – Strangers
20th May – Bella Union | Buy
Marissa Nadler’s elegant and unmistakable sound has subtly evolved across seven studio albums. From early folk ballads to the atmospheric textures explored on 2014’s ‘July’, the quality of her songwriting has never wavered and ‘Strangers’ is another monumentally well-crafted record.
The soaring slide guitars heard in the title track add cinematic dimensions to Nadler’s music, placing her healing voice into americana surroundings. The album’s lyrics equal its sonic quality, exploring such themes as loneliness and longing in the piano-driven opener ‘Divers of the Dust’. For emotionally-charged melancholia however, skip to ‘All the Colours of the Dark’, where Nadler’s voice beautifully croons over the album’s lead single and crowning jewel. Michael Liggins