“I think writing an album is like being lost in a wood,” says Will Gregory. “You’re trying to figure out an interesting path. You don’t know whether it’s going to be a dead end or somewhere interesting and you never know when to stop because around the corner some beautiful vista might open up.” Since Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp synthesised as a group back in 2000 with their first album Felt Mountain, the pair have enjoyed a long and fulfilling journey of success in both pop and indie genres. As a duo, their sound has most definitely wandered into many corners of that musical ‘forest’. Album’s Tales of Us and 2008’s Seventh Tree encounter introspective soundscapes that really bridge the gap between synth laden pop and indie riffs, while 2010’s Headfirst saw the band striving desperately for mainstream milestones.
Hurray For The Riff Raff make their long-awaited return in the form of their new twelve track record, The Navigator. The album in itself is a beautifully written piece of art and acts as a political concept album, inspired by vocalist and frontwoman, Alynda Segarra’s own journey from the South Bronx to the downtown punk scene and beyond, in search of her identity.
From the offset, we are introduced with ‘Entrance’ and are immediately introduced with the reoccurring persona of ‘The Navigator’, the force which drives the entirety of the album and embodies the never-ending desire for change. The track offers a brilliant introduction to Alynda’s soft spoken, darkened voice and the accompaniment of almost barbershop harmonies and atmospheric instrumentation make for an instantly encapsulating start to the record.
The second album from the brain child of Jake Webb, Methyl Ethel, is certainly a journey into psych-pop. The Aussie duo’s second album, Everything Is Forgotten, is an expansive example of experimentation at its finest.
When Grandaddy were carving out cult status for themselves with The Sophtware Slump in 2000, it somewhat passed me by. That year, my attention was drawn to the albums of PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Ryan Adams and the angular energy of At The Drive In. Whereas that was probably an oversight on my behalf, I’m not going to beat myself up, as it means that I’m able to approach Last Place without prior conceptions over how it rates against previous Grandaddy material. That said, I will now certainly be trawling the back catalogue, as Last Place is a compelling piece of work.
Stormzy’s debut album Gang Signs & Prayer has already become one of the most-discussed albums of 2017. His eclectic mix of traditional grime and open vulnerability is an invaluable eye opener into an ever-changing genre, touching on the trials and tribulations of life in South London, romance, and ongoing feuds.
Ibibio Sound Machine are a pulsating eight piece band that is made up of Eno Williams (vocals), Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), John McKenzie (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth), and Max Grunhard (saxophone, synth). Since their 2014 self-titled debut the band have toured extensively, but they have managed to find time to record a follow up Uyai. “Uyai is a continuation of Ibibio Sound Machine’s story in which the worlds of West African highlife and electronic London collide via the storytelling lyrical thread of Eno’s vocals in the Ibibio language of Nigeria,” the band explains. “There is a darker, edgier quality to the sound that maybe reflects the difficult journey the band took from making the first album to completing the second one. The songs are based more around themes of empowerment, freedom, and the liberation of dance for women, and people in general.”
With an ever-changing discography and lineup, Dirty Projectors is back with its first full studio album since 2012. The album is a soulful exploration of vocalist David Longstreth’s break-up with now ex band-mate Amber Coffman, with diverse melodies evolving into an adventurous and challenging experience.
Dirty Projectors, the decade-plus-long recording pursuit of producer and vocalist David Longstreth, is back with its eighth studio album, almost two years after the project’s last EP. Unlike previous releases, this particular self-titled album sees Longstreth with a host of new contributors including Tyondai Braxton, Mauro Refosco (Atoms For Peace, Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Dawn Richard (D?WN). At a glance, this isn’t a lineup to be sniffed at, but with Dirty Projectors being renowned for a wildly diverse discography it’s hard to say what can be expected from the album.
Under the banner of pulsating motorik rhythms, delicate shoegaze, prominent soundscapes and dreamy vocals, Outside (Briefly) is an early contender for album of the year. Froth’s third LP is the sound of a band finding its voice in what is a refined studio effort and the group’s most unified work to date. Gone are the days of the catchy psych-pop, to be replaced by far more experimental arrangements which bring the intricate melodies and compositions to the core.
With the band this week announcing a UK tour, which kicks off at The Great Escape festival in May, I had a chat with frontman/guitarist JooJoo Ashworth and bassist Jeremy Katz about the new record and what the future holds for the LA-based four-piece.
There was a blonde haired, Northern European standing aloft the stage monitors, peering menacingly into the packed crowd. A mean and moody bassist, like an extra from some obscure spaghetti western. A lank, vaguely malnourished drummer, long, Brian Connolly 70s glam hair swishing around as he sets about his drum kit with serious intent. And a rather hidden guitarist/keyboardist, obviously the musical mastermind of the band, having to deal with a broken guitar strap hinge as the roadie comes on and applies layer after layer of gaffer tape in a bid to keep the game flowing. This was Fufanu, the Icelandic post-punk-inspired band, who played a fearsome set at last year’s The Great Escape. Walking that fine line between exhilirating emotional intensity and gloomily meditative contemplation, Fufanu add plenty of techno and electronic textures and sounds, as well as a predilection for Neu!-like grooves and mildly psychedelic flourishes in sculpturing a sound that builds gently but remorsefully, and without indulging in over-the-top pyrotechnics nor needless breakdowns. There’s an understated pop sensibility to the band, but ultimately it’s definitely music to get lost into, especially on the live stage where they deliver a mean, moody and exciting show. We caught up with lead singer Kaktus Einarsson, on the back of the new album Sports and an upcoming UK tour.
Female-fronted Brighton foursome WILLOH are a band in the early stages of formation, but already they are crashing their way onto the Brighton music scene. Gentle vocals, contrasted with riotous 90s grunge pop makes them a unique and endlessly entertaining group who we’ll definitely be seeing more of.
Brighton foursome WILLOH are bringing grungy pop-rock to Brighton in a femme fatale whirlwind. Likened to Honeyblood and Wolf Alice, frontwomen Sammy Nottage and Hattie Upton-Dance met at University and started jamming straight away. With a few great songs under their belt and a whole lot of attitude, the girls expanded into the foursome that exists today. Already making impressive gains, they’ve got several UK festival appearances lined up for this summer and have just released their debut single ‘Haircut’ which features gentle vocals and riotous guitar riffs. We caught up with all four of them to learn a bit more about the band.