When New Yorker Sharon Van Etten released the appropriately titled ‘Comeback Kid’, late last year, garnering huge acclaim and sighs of relief from the many who were worried they had heard the last of her, she reminded us, after a gap of nearly five years, why so many admired her work. Gentle and folksy on the surface, Etten wore her heart on her sleeve in displaying darker undertones, and human frailty. Now though, there is a heightened rock’n’roll grit to her music, ‘Comeback Kid’ containing a hint of the expressive Anna Calvi, with the muscularity of both New York’s LCD and The Strokes.
“How do you describe an album out of time, concerned with the disappearance of culture, of humanity, of nature, of logic and emotion? Why make this album in an era when attention spans have been reduced to next to nothing, and the tactile grains of making music have been further reduced to algorithms and projected playlist placement. Why wake up in the morning? Why hasn’t everything already disappeared?” State Deerhunter about the creation of their latest album, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, the first album from the band since 2015’s Fading Frontier. A temperamental and cynical record, that sees Deerhunter try to emulate America’s newest heroes such as DIIV and The National, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? brings Deerhunter straight up-to-date with their contemporaries.
What more is there to say about Steve Mason, the former Beta Band frontman, who continues to ride high in the affections of a fiercely loyal and musically literate fanbase? After suffering deep depression a few years back, Mason decamped to Brighton, where he still resides, seemingly in a better place, and continues to make remarkably, albeit more upbeat, soulful music: his craft as a songwriter second to none.
If this is the first time that you’ve heard of the Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork, you may be surprised to find out that they have been going strong for over 20 years, since their formation in late 1995, and have recently released their 11th studio album titled Verkligheten.
No Step is the second full-length album from local art rock/post-grunge group Perch and clearly displays a progression in the band’s style, whilst keeping that Brighton band aesthetic that made their past efforts so brilliant.
You Tell Me have forged something bright and bold, a work that largely marries the personal lyricism of Hayes, with the production and multi-instrumentalist skills of Brewis. Low key on the surface, less grand than what we are used to with Field Music, and recorded in a very short space of time, it is still full to the brim with sparklingly short and inventive orchestral-pop vignettes that place melody at the forefront. A minor triumph.
The Twilight Sad are known for their highly dramatic, visceral indie-rock but even these are somewhat lazy labels that make them sound more mundane than they are. Though there are a lot of acts favouring a similar style (and some from several decades ago), there remains something unique about this group of Scotsmen. They are young, passionate and Robert Smith loves them, so just over a decade of hard graft now seems to be paying off as they prepare to release their fifth studio album on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records. The question is: has it changed them now the world seems to be becoming their oyster?
Phoenix is the first album from Seattle’s Pedro The Lion in 15 years. It is, therefore, obvious that it should be named after the mythical creature that symbolises a rebirth of sorts, a new beginning, which is definitely indicative of David Bazan’s creative process after such a long hiatus. Central figurehead for the outfit, Bazan found himself in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, when touring the US alone a few years ago, stopping off at his grandparents’ house. The breakthrough that followed also inspired a visit to the house he grew up in, undoubtedly resulting in the nostalgia that is the dominant theme throughout his new material.
The members of the Wu-Tang Clan have been as productive as ever, with the legendary rap group releasing The Saga Continues last year. Some of the members have also individually gained a lot of attention thanks to more recent releases. This includes Ghostface Killah’s The Lost Tapes, which came out in October, and the release of the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s posthumous single ‘Intoxicated’, celebrating what would have been his 50th birthday. However, now is the time for one of Wu Tang’s most prominent members, Method Man, to step into the spotlight with his newest album Meth Lab 2: The Lithium.
Seadog are a band we’ve been following for some time, the main project from local singer-songwriter Mark Nathan Benton, they’ve released a series of beautifully delicate, folk-tinged melodic indie songs through EPs and stand-alone singles over the years. I reviewed the band’s Transmitter EP back in 2015, a fantastic short collection of gentle melancholia, but it’s always seemed to me that Seadog’s music would lend itself best to a full-length album, and here we finally have just that. Cabin Fever Blues is a collection of ten wintry tunes which Benton recorded with a variety of collaborators last year, in a number of locations between Brighton and London. It’s a solid and consistent effort that tends towards the slow and plaintiff.