Friday, August 08, 2014

Embedded: Slowthrills summer double edition no.1

As you've probably noticed, the radio/ mixcloud side of the blog has taken a bit of a break over the summer. Normal service should resume in September. Meanwhile here is the first of two longer-than-usual shows, 33 tracks, half submissions and half material that I have just stumbled upon. Tracklisting is on the mixcloud widget, but for the benefit of people searching for certain acts, I have pasted it below as well. Enjoy!

Cloudcasts by slowthrills on Mixcloud

1. Black and White - Parquet Courts
2. Bitter Branches - Static In Verona
3. Regan's Lost Weekend - Happyness
4. Magazine - the Proper Ornaments
5. No coast - Braid
6. Trembling Moon - Kult Country
7. Satanic Black Devotion - Soft Pink Truth
8. Sarcofago Live - Mountain Goats
9. Common Thread - John Steel Singers
10. Without a Face - Luluc
11.Below the Pines - Northern arms
12. When Love it Starts Leaving - Robyn G Shiels
13 Tremendous Misery Sets In - Music Blues
14. Terrified - Rural Alberta Advantage
15. Super Rat - Honeyblood
16. Unhand Me - The Wharves
17. Sat in your Lap - Vomitface
18. Cry Baby Cry - Prom
19. Tears of Joy - Slow Club
20. Water me - FKA twigs
21. Game Love - Gulp
22. New born - Sounds of Sputnik feat. Ummagma
23. Ice Fortress - Trans Am
24. Bassy - the Hertz Complex
25. Grace - Zola Blood
26. My Girl Comes to the City - Castanets
27. Eye of the Pearl - Quilt
28. A Place you Return to in a Dream - Field Mouse
29. The Wind Blows Through their Skulls - Beastmilk
30. Anglerfish - Dog! Paper! Submarine!
31. Fire in the City - Bob Mould
32. 501-415- Allah Las
33. Mirrorball - Nisennenmondai


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The best new albums of the month, July 2014

Traditionally July is a fallow period for new releases, but this year I had no trouble finding ten albums to recommend. In fact, I would be surprised if a few of these didn't appear in this blog's end of year round-up.

King Creosote 'From Scotland With Love'
Even though this is essentially the soundtrack to a lovely film made from archive footage of Scotland's recent past, it is also the follow up to the masterpiece that was 'Diamond Mine'. It certainly differs from the KC of old; lo-fi methods are cast aside in favour of lush production and some beautiful string arrangements. The songs themselves are by turns happy, sad, poetic and reflective. A perfect companion to the visuals it was made for, but also a collection that ranks amongst his very best work.

Shabazz Palaces 'Lese Majesty'
Eighteen songs over seven 'suites' loosely based on sci-fi might sound a bit prog-rock, and it's certainly a challenging listen, taking a sideways step from the excellent 'Black Up' but delivering something no less thrilling.
Exactly as their recent London show suggested, Shabazz Palaces have a certain skill of reeling you in and overwhelming you with their woozy, psychedelic hip-hop without you really even noticing. They just creep up on you and before yoiu know it you are hooked.

Luluc 'Passerby'
Some may know Luluc from the National's ATP line-up or from last year's Nick Drake tribute, but they have kept such a low profile since their debut came out in 2008. This second album is released by Sub Pop, produced by Aaron Dessner from the National and contains a selection of lovely yet mostly melancholic, Nick Drake-influenced songs. It's perhaps ironic that the title is 'Passerby' as I found it took a few listens to really get into. In the end the impressive, seemingly effortless harmonies won me over.

Comet Gain 'Paperback Ghosts'
Surely one of the most under-rated UK bands of the last 20 years, Comet Gain have been plugging away since the heady days of Wiiija records in the mid 90s, releasing fine albums every few years or so. This is their eighth album and it often sees them in more reflective mode, taking the foot off the gas on their Northern Soul/ indie-pop sound to pause and look around them. This could be the most beautiful record they have made.

Honeyblood 'Honeyblood'
I've had this debut from these "noisy Scottish girls" for a while now, and it's starting to sound like one of the debuts of the year. That slightly self-deprecating description of themselves doesn't to do justice to the quality of the songwriting here. They sit well with the new feisty alt country vocalists like Caitlin Rose and Angel Olsen, whilst still coming across as a cracking indie-rock band.

Wolves in the Throne Room 'Celestite'
On this album, WITTR's estrangement from the world of metal becomes almost permanent, as they continue to explore the atmospheric synth-based pieces which have led some people to compare them to the likes of Popul Vuh and even Tangerine Dream. Indeed this could be a soundtrack from some lost, or yet to be made, Werner Herzog film.

Alvvays 'Alvvays'
Whilst there is nothing new on this debut by Alvvays (it is of course pronounced Always) their melodic indie-pop is hugely enjoyable. I bet this collection of songs will form the soundtrack to may people's summers this year. Up there with the aforementioned Honeyblood as one of the best debuts in this genre for ages.

The Soft Walls 'No Time'
As I often say on here, there are simply too many acts like this around - psychy garage-rock acts who are in awe of what has gone on decades before. Happily, 'No Time' has enough quality to stand out and plenty of tricks up its sleeve - noisy interludes, old school drum machines, and some hissing drones that could have been mined from the mid-70s and Suicide. It certainly doesn't sound like a side project, although it is essentially a solo album by Dan Reeves from Cold Pumas

Gulp 'Season Sun'
Nearly two years on from their first single 'Game Love' (it's the opening track here), Gulp's debut album continues in the same psychedelic folk-pop vein. The haunting folk-tinged vocals of Lindsey Leven are central to it all and she has written all the material with her partner Guto Pryce (former Super Furries bassist). A summer album with a twist, as the pretty tunes sit side by side with some woozy psychedelia.

Slow Club 'Complete Surrender'
When I first heard the remarkable title track I thought we were set for a change of direction from this duo, but overall the album is more of a steady progression from 2011's 'Paradise' rather than a huge leap into mainstream pop. That title track is a masterful pop song though, as is 'Tears of Joy', and the inevitable shift from their folk-pop beginnings to something resembling indie-soul is pretty exciting.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The best new albums of the month, June 2014

Parquet Courts 'Sunbathing Animal'
Parquet Courts haven't messed with the nineties-slacker vibe they perfected on their breakthrough second album 'Light Up Gold'. This carries on where that left off, and if anything shows further development in their songwriting. Still weighted down with obvious influences, but this time Jonathan Richman casts a heavier shadow than the likes of Pavement.

Eaux 'Plastics'
my review (the 405)
"Eaux's music uses the machinery of pop and is, at its heart, a female vocal over a synth backing. There is much more to it though, and the further you dig in, the more puzzling and intriguing it can become. On this debut album Plastics they bend and mould electronic pop into something delightfully strange."

Fucked Up 'Glass Boys'
It was always going to be a challenge to follow up the excellent and ambitious David Comes To Life, and the first few listens to Glass Boys suggest that it hasn't quite got there. Their layers of guitars sound as glorious as ever and the lyrics reveal more on each play, so your patience may be rewarded.

The Soft Pink Truth 'Why Do The Heathen Rage?'
A fascinatingly odd album wherein Matmos's Drew Daniel reversions some of his favourite songs by black metal bands (Venom, Sarcofago, etc) into house/techno friendly slices of electronica. The results are occasionally amusing and at times brilliant. 'Ready to Fuck' sees guest vocalist Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak) soulfully intoning "stand up to see my penetrating hammer". You shouldn't need any further prompting to check this out.

Smallgang 'San'
Perhaps a more ambitious album than their debut 'Trespasses', Smallgang are still working within the realm of classic indie-rock and post-hardcore. They flirt with the relationship between noise and melody throughout, and the presence of occasional female guest vocals add another layer to their sound.

Bob Mould 'Beauty and Ruin'
The intriguing cover image features Mould now and also in his Husker Du heyday, as if his past is haunting him. Musically, this album belies the passage of time and whilst it wouldn't quite fit with the Husker's output, it would sit nicely between, say, 'Workbook' and Sugar. It's a pretty take on melodic indie-rock, in other words.

Happyness 'Weird Little Birthday'
I expect this one to grow on me even more as the months pass. This London three piece have made a lovely debut album that is warm, woozy and at times weird. Like Parquet Courts above, this is in debt to 90's American indie, but it has an originality that makes it worth investigating.

Clipping 'CLPPNG'
A refreshingly original take on hip-hop. Producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes explore some edgy and unique backgrounds (including the superbly grating 'Get Up' where the music is just an alarm clock beep) whilst rapper Daveed Diggs creates a third person narrative to accompany these. As someone perceptive spotted, there is a reason why the "I" is removed from the title.

OOIOO 'Gamel'
For this OOIOO release, Yoshimi creates a series of psychedelic pieces - sometimes proggy and sometimes pretty - based around the gamelan. This has the same relentless trance-like rhythms and sparse, haunted vocals of her other band Boredoms, but here their legendary overload has been replaced by something more delicate.

Guided by Voices 'Cool Planet'
Yet another album from the non-stop reformed GBV. This one is more psychedelic and sketchy than recent releases, and all the better for it. Tobin Sprout comes to the fore on quite a few tracks as well.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Embedded: a loosely themed World Cup Special cloudcast

After promising a new "radio" show every two weeks, I was thrown by the double distractions of hay fever and the World Cup. I thought I would use the latter to my advantage so I put together a mix of some less obvious tracks from countries taking part in the world cup. I managed to find tracks I liked from 18 of the 32 nations - obviously in the case of USA, England, Germany, Australia and Japan it was hard to choose. Show is embedded below, enjoy! - oh and I should add that normal service will return on week beginning 7th July, with the usual mix of new and hard to find music.

Slowthrills s02e02 a sort-of World Cup themed special by Slowthrills on Mixcloud

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Slow Thrills radio returns

For those of you asking about the internet radio show, I have made a new one at last. My plan is to broadcast a show at on occasional Wednesdays - starting tonight (11 June) at the spookily late hour of 2230BST. Times will vary over the coming weeks though. The show will be available on demand on mixcloud as well. Hopefully most shows will have guests invloved, and tonight's show features a chat with Chile's finest psych-rockers Follakzoid.

here is the embedded show - enjoy! (and it is also available via mixlr showreel here

Slowthrills s02e01 with guests Follakzoid by Slowthrills on Mixcloud

Friday, June 06, 2014

new tracks // third edition 2014

As I've wrapped up my run of radioaktiv shows, I thought I would give some of the acts I played another plug. These are some of best self-released/ unreleased or just simply small record company releases that I came across during the first part of the year

Ummagma 'Lama'

Jerry David DeCicca 'Colors in the Sky'

Smallgang 'Cards'

Becky Becky 'Fire and Wings'

Craft Spells 'Komorebi'

Eyes and No Eyes 'Autocrat'

Mark Wynn 'She Fancies Me That One in Age Concern'

The best new albums of the month, May 2014

First of all let me say that I dropped the ball a bit when looking back at April, as I heard the Broken Twin and Ought albums too late to include them, but I've listened to both of them a lot since and can definitely recommend them.
May was relatively easy to compile as there were some clear stand-outs over the month. Enjoy the ten...

The Delines 'Colfax'
Essentially this is another side to Richmond Fontaine and fans of that outfit - or indeed fans of Willy Vlautin's fiction - will not be disappointed. The Delines places female vocalist Amy Boone at the heart of the action as the band create a lush country-soul crossover. As always, Vlautin's lyrics tell a beautifully sad story.

Bo Ningen 'III'
my review (the 405)

"seven years and three full length albums on from their early noise-based jams they have refined and re-energized their unique approach to noise-rock with III. It's not punk, acid-rock, shoegaze or metal, instead it's a stranger hybrid of all of these and more. Now that "psych" has come to define garage bands reinventing the music of the past, they don't sit well with that tag either. Bo Ningen are about as futuristic a rock band as you could imagine."

Swans 'To Be Kind'

Nearly two years ago this Swans line-up made a fantastic two hour long album called 'The Seer', which was probably one of the best records made under that name, and Michael Gira even claimed it was the summation of his life's work (I'm paraphrasing, but you know what I mean). Unbelievably, they've done it again - another two hours of revelatory, boundary stretching rock music. Created mostly whilst on tour, these tunes sound more like finely honed jams than anything else. Thirteen albums down the line, they are still a huge creative force.

Bastard Mountain 'Farewell, Bastard Mountain'

Is Bastard Mountain a supergroup or a collaboration? Combining the talents of some of Meursault including vocalist Neil Pennycook, Rob St John and Sparrow and the Workshop, amongst others, they have created a beautiful album that equals much of the recorded output of the separate strands of each act. Three songs from each artist were brought to the sessions and then reworked into a lovely, haunted kind of folk music.

Sharon Van Etten 'Are We There'

This crept up on me in much the same way 'Tramp' did, with the really special moments emerging over repeated listens. Thematically it is similar as well, with her lyrics still firmly focused on the minutiae of relationships. The arrangements, and overall feel, is somehow a bit smoother, as if her earlier folk-rock and indie-rock leanings had had a little polish to make them even more accessible. That's not intended as a negative comment, just an observation, and this has been on constant rotation all month.

La Sera 'Hour of the Dawn'
The return of Katy Goodman, once of the Vivian Girls, with her side project that has now become her main musical outlet. In fact this is the third release under the La Sera name. Summery indie-rock, with a carefully concealed edge.

Oliver Wilde 'Red Tide Opal In the Loose End Womb'

Some confusion over this guy's name - is it Oliver or Olivier? He appears on Spotify as both! Anyway this is an odd but hugely interesting album, and one which I think is in the tradition of English experimental rock music, by which I mean that it manages to sound like Bark Psychosis, Radiohead and Robert Wyatt, often in the course of a single song.

Amen Dunes 'Love'

Essentially a solo project from Damien McMahon, 'Love' is the third and most cohesive release as Amen Dunes. Hints of Syd Barrett, psych-folk and Kurt Vile abound, and the album reveals more layers with each play.

Wussy 'Attica'
It's great to see that Wussy saved up some gems for what is their fifth album but is also essentially their UK debut - all their other earlier albums had been released in the USA only. In particular 'Teenage Wasteland' and 'Halloween' are such great songs that 'Attica' would have got into this list even if the rest of it was poor. Which it isn't of course, and the contrast between the styles of Chuck Cleaver (once of Ass Ponys) and Lisa Walker make for a fascinating listen. Well crafted indie-rock songs - and tasteful pedal steel in places - make 'Attica' so consistently strong that I think it may be an even better intro to the band than the 'Buckeye' compliation from a couple of years ago.

Ben Frost 'Aurora'

Ranging from ice cold electronic noise to barely audible ambient pieces, Ben Frost can claim to have released one of the most arresting albums of the year so far. As well as the synths, 'Aurora' relies heavily (no pun intended!) on the percussive talents of Greg Fox (Guardian Alien, ex-Liturgy) and Thor Harris (swans and many others). Written on a laptop in the Democratic Rep of Congo, mixed in Reykjavik, and one Tim Hecker is credited with "sound design".

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Embedded: the best tracks from the Radioaktiv shows

I did fifteen shows for the internet station Radioaktiv between January and May this year, during which I played a couple of hundred new releases. As the station has ceased broadcasting I thought I would put together a mix of my favourite 25 of these - as it's nearly June you could also look at it as a best of the year so far from Slow Thrills's perspective. Listen via the embed below.
Contains tracks by Amazing Snakeheads, St Vincent, Liars, Wild Beasts, Tobacco, the Notwist, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, Thee Oh Sees, EMA, Sisyphus, Pink Mountaintops, the Skull Defekts, Girl Band, Chain and the Gang, Perfect Pussy, Bo Ningen, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, Wye Oak, Marissa Nadler, The Delines, Wussy, Sun Kil Moon, Broken Twin, Angel Olsen, Silver Mt Zion.

The best tracks from Slowthrills Radioaktiv shows by Slowthrills on Mixcloud