It’s time for a round-up of the best in new music from the last wee while. These are the diamonds in the rough, presented to you in this manner because no one likes getting their hands dirty if they don’t have to, and you’re a busy person. I know. I can tell. So, let’s get right to the point.
First up we have ‘Burn’, a single from the new EP from Yakima. Rising from the ashes of live favourites Franklin, this is the first recording under the new name, and it’s a beaut. ‘Burn’ is spiky and angular, but at the same time laid back and mellow, a difficult combination to pull off. You want comparisons? Think of Teenage Fanclub crossed with The Charlatans, or imagine if J Mascis and Lou Barlow had been raised in Motherwell and not Massachusetts, and you have some idea. Or you could just listen for yourselves right here and now:
While we’re talking about “artists formerly known as…”, Isa and The Filthy Tongues are now simple The Filthy Tongues, and they are back with a new album, Jacobs Ladder. The first single is ‘Long Time Dead’, and it sees them coming on like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, with Martin Metcalfe in full Preacherman mode, and an understated blues riff backing him up. If Mike Scott had fixated on the Old Testament instead of the New this is what The Waterboys would sound like. Don’t have nightmares:
The best music labels have impeccable taste. Postcard, Factory, Rough Trade, Sarah, Stax…you can make your own list, but I would suggest Lost Map deserve to be on it. Currently the home of Randolph’s Leap, Rozi Plain, Kid Canaveral, Monoganon and, of course, Pictish Trail, they seem to be carefully choosing a roster so tasteful it stands as an an example to others as to just how it should be done. I can back up this claim, and I’m about to with two of their acts releasing new material recently.
First is Victoria Hume who has a new EP, Closer. The music is wonderfully sparse, with piano and strings working in harmony to create a gentle and beguiling soundtrack to Hume’s unforgettable vocals. Her voice has a warmth and soul reminiscent of June Tabor, Linda Thompson and Kirsty MacColl, and it just begs to be listened to. This is title track, ‘Closer’:
The other new Lost Map release is from Scots Whay Hae! favourites Tuff Love, but we are not alone there. It’s an album, it’s called Resort, and it is, in their own words, “all the EPs in a oney”. If someone wants a definition of ‘perfect pop’, then this is exhibit A, m’lud. Fuzzy guitars, lo-fi vocals and an urgent rhythm section combine to make a glorious collection of tunes that you just can’t get out of your head. It’s as catchy as a classroom cold and is surely destined to be in most discerning listeners albums of the year. Every home should have one. From Resort, this is ‘Duke:
While I was listening to the new Emma Pollock album, In Search Of Harperfield, I was thinking about just how many good records she has made or been involved with. In fact, I would say her very presence is a safe guarantee of quality. That’s certainly true of this latest collection of songs where her singing here is stronger than ever, and the music benefits from a more robust production than before. The following track is ‘Parks and Recreation’, which sees Pollock remembering a teenage assault, and memory and reflection are central to these songs as she muses on growing up and growing older. It’s tempting to see albums as simply a collection of individual songs these days, but you have to listen to this album as a whole as that’s what it is for and when it makes the most sense. Then repeat. This is an album to immerse yourself in. And if you haven’t done that for while, why don’t you treat yourself?:
It’s only March, and already we have been discussing some great records. Another is the new album from Adam Stafford, consistently one of the more interesting and original musicians around. That is certainly true of his latest album, Taser Revelations. You know someone is out of the ordinary when they remind you of influences you haven’t thought of in years. He’s like audio therapy, allowing you access to memories of long forgotten favourite records. Devo, Thomas Dolby and The The have been dug out on the back of listening to Stafford’s latest, but as I write this I’m listening to Taser Revelations once more, which I hope tells you all you need to know. There’s something magic going on here, I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. But then, that’s part of the man’s charm. This is ‘Phantom Billions’:
Let the bells ring out and the sky be black with hats, Frightened Rabbit are back with a new album, Painting Of A Panic Attack. Now, I know in all likelihood you’re already aware of that, but it’s still a cause for celebration, and from what I’ve heard so far it’s going to be a righteous one. Not out til 8th April, but available to pre-order now, this is the most welcome Easter time return since… well, you know… To ease your anticipation, this is the opening track, ‘Death Dream’:
And that’s your lot for this month…
Ach, who am I kidding. I know I raved about the new Steve Mason album Meet The Humans last time round, but it’s still a regular listen round our way, and there’s a new single from it with a cracking video to boot. You may see this repetition of content as a lack of vision, but I make no apologies as this just backs up my claim that 2016 is shaping up to be a year of classic albums. This is Mr Mason (who, as with Emma Pollock, delivers the goods every single time) with ‘Alive’, and it’s too, too pleasant:
Til next time. Already, I’m excited as to what’s coming our way…