I should retitle this post the best new albums from May, as the My Bloody Valentine re-issues dominated the month for me to such an extent that I haven't got around to writing about them, apart from a few brief mentions on my tumblr. Anyway, happily there were plenty of fine new releases as well and I've listed the best of these below. A Spotify playlist is embedded at the bottom so that you can investigate the ones you haven't heard.
I love this album a lot. My review is here
"Maybe it's because I felt I was there as some of the songs took shape, but I can't recall the last time I enjoyed a set of new songs so much...It's a deeply personal album, taking minor details from the songwriter's life and making them into something larger and more significant. The collection is laced with regret, sadness and quite a bit of humour. I won't hear a finer album of this kind all year, I'm sure of that."
my review on the 405 here
Musically, Dead Mellotron are a noise-pop band who aren't afraid to embrace ambient textures and melody. It is hard to play music like this and escape from the giant shadow of MBV, but Dead Mellotron shouldn't be passed over as copyists.
They have taken some aspects of their sound, but Dead Mellotron are savvy enough to realise that cool guitar sounds go well with strong melodies, just as MBV did, and Glitter is a fine piece of work in its own right.
I wish I had heard this prior to seeing Phil Eleverum play it as the centrepiece of his set at Mangum's ATP. Then it seemed minimal and distant, but here in a fuller band context it works much better. A lot of lovely melodies, and a fairly ambient drift occasionally disturbed by some great noisy guitars. 'Over Dark Water' is actually an attempt at doom-metal.
Seemingly everywhere thanks to internet streams and leaks prior to its release, I've had quite a while to digest these songs. The bottom line is that Beach House's sound hasn't changed from their initial blueprint, but I think 'Bloom' has some of their best songs on it. Very lovely.
Another really lovely album, the first since 2007 from Bristol based songwriter and soundscapist Nick Talbot. The arrangements are rather refined this time around, and I would have liked a bit more of the feedback of earlier albums, but it's especially good when stripped back to the bare melodies.
A shift in sound for the Yorkshire band, as they introduce synths to their mix in a major way. Still great at brooding dramatic songs which draw you in and reward your patience. I always like their big sweeping melodies, which they manage to pull off without being too bombastic.
Sometimes you think are there no new ways to express yourself left, then you hear a new El-P album with lines like "Pardon the fuzz I’m distorted, contorted, pardon the hiss/don’t let ‘em Henson me, enter me and control how I twitch." It's a fantastically busy, convoluted record which takes a few listens to get to grips with. Hip-hop album of the season, and hard to ignore lines like “I’ll rugby-kick the shit out your groin, boy.” Good beats, and a lyrical treat as well.
A fine set of songs, stronger than their debut, and particularly influenced by the Lucksmiths and the Go-Betweens, which goes against the title I guess. In fact, the lovely, minimal ukelele song 'Tallulah' is a vivid memory of life in Australia. Once again I prefer the rawer, emotional songs, rather than the standard indie-pop fare. However this is a big, impressive step forward.
This is one of those albums that's going to be everywhere for the rest of the year. Best British debut album, and all that. These people write some interesting songs, and aren't afraid to try new things with production and especially vocals, which do raise an eyebrow on first listen. There's an awful lot of strong songwriting here too, 'Tessalate', 'Breezeblock', 'Matilda' amongst the highlights.
my review on the 405 here
From the guys who sometimes record as worriedaboutsatan, "It hints at the dancefloor yet it remains eerie and dark in places, and its fondness for straight forward 4/4 rhythms make it more lively than other ambient electronica efforts. That it manages to pull these together and work as a whole is impressive in itself."
Comparisons to a few people I don't like led to me giving this lot a wide berth for a while. I actually only listened to this the day after I failed to go and see them live, and felt bad that I had missed them. They are more folk-based contemporaries of fellow Scots the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit. Worth further investigation.