April turned out to be a very strong month for new albums, I had to compile the selections below from a long list of 21. Thanks to @almal100 on twitter I've been able to update this with Trembling Bells and Bonnie Prince Billy, as I hadn't noticed it on Spotify yesterday.
So I now have eleven albums that you can play via that fancy new embedded play button. The only one that can't be played is the excellent Actress album, but you can browse it over at Honest Jon's shop site.
ALBUMS AVAILABLE TO LISTEN VIA SPOTIFY
Human Don't Be Angry 'Human Don't be Angry'
my review on the 405.
"This is one of those albums that has impressed me more every time I've played it. It has managed to make Malcolm Middleton's musical range wider by showing how well he can work with instrumental melody lines whilst underlining what a fine guitar player he is. I suspect that Human Don't Be Angry may well be more than a side project for him in the future."
Lower Dens 'Nootropics'
my review on the 405.
"Weaving melodies that hark back to Jana Hunter’s solo records, with mechanical, often bleak instrumentation, the music here echoes the lyrical concerns – fear of the future, concerns for the development of the human race, and about our relationship with technology. This is an album that will reward repeated listens and unravelling and should be welcomed for its ambition."
Trembling Bells and Bonnie Prince Billy 'The Marble Downs'
It is an absolute joy that this album exists in 2012, as on the surface it is so out of place you almost have a double take at the release date. It is fantastic though, Will Oldham is in great voice and Trembling Bells are as good as ever. Some great some playing and songwriting, and it made me smile too. All good.
Death Grips 'The Money Store'
One of the most frustrated and angry releases of the year so far, a collision of distorted beats, hip-hop and industrial electronica. I didn't get around to reviewing it, but here is a link to David Zammit's fine review, also published on the 405.
Alexander Tucker 'Third Mouth'
Tucker's second album release of 2012, if you count January's collaboration with Daniel Beban under the Imbogodom name. This follows on where his last solo album 'Dorwych' left off, further developing his explorations with psych-folk, and adding some subtle electronic touches along the way.
They are well and truly back, and 'Wonky' is their best album for many a year. It's impressive that it manages to sound like Orbital whilst embracing recent musical developments such as dubstep. New collaborators like Zola Jesus and Lady Leshur underline this with their contributions.
Bear in Heaven 'I Love You, It's Cool'
This synth-based act have been working on their songwriting since their last release, as this new album is packed full of catchy and well-constructed songs.
Lightships 'Electric Cables'
Lightships is the new band led by Teenage Fanclub's Gerard Love, and this is one of the most impressive TFC-related releases for a long time. It's pitched somewhere between prime melodic TFC and the later Pastels records and it's very lovely indeed.
Sea of Bees 'Orangefarben'
Sea of Bees is essentially the alter ego of songwriter Julie Baenziger and this is her second album. It is a record that has been created in the aftermath of a relationship that has come to an end. It has some heartbeaking lyrical moments but ultimately it ends up as something quite cathartic. Brave and successful cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane as well.
Maps and Atlases 'Beware and Be Grateful'
Straddling the difficult middle ground between math-rock and catchy indie, this second album from Maps and Atlases succeeds in pleasing both parties. It manages to gel those camps together with some success.
Battles 'Dross Glop'
I guess it is a bit unusual to include a full album of remixes in this list, but I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a collection like this so much. The remixes are from the likes of Kode9, Gang Gang Dance, Hudson Mohawke, Shabazz Palaces, and eYe from Boredoms, and many of them bear little relation to the originals. Well worth hearing.
NOT AVAILABLE TO LISTEN ON SPOTIFY
The first stand-out electronica release of the year in my opinion. This is a more abstract affair than Actress's previous album 'Splazsh', it sits closer to the ambient works of Burial and Aphex Twin than conventional beats and breaks, and I reckon I need to listen to it a few more times before I have the words to do it justice. It could singlehandedly get me right back into this kind of music.