It was only last summer that Mike Rosenberg (a.k.a. Passenger) announced that he was taking a break from the constant treadmill of touring, just before a surprise release of his ninth studio album, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Taking into consideration the current album title, he is now back on tour and album number ten (in just eleven years) has arrived in the shape of Runaway. Heavily influenced by Americana, both stylistically and thematically, he may come to feel that it would have been better not rushing back quite so quickly. He may have found inspiration on the road, but it appears that he lost something else along the way.
Nothing if not regular, Performance marks the eighth studio album in ten years from the Texan indie-rockers. It marks a new beginning of sorts, with Conrad Choucroun (drums) and Michael Hunter (keyboards) joining stalwarts James Petralli (vocals, guitar) and Steve Terebecki (bass) in a revamped line-up following a partial exodus to Leon Bridges’ backing band. It also signals a return to form after the slight drift of 2016’s Stiff, and a definitive re-alignment away from the smooth sounds of recent years and back to the ramshackle style of earlier albums.
“I have long felt frustrated at the limitations of what a woman is allowed to be, on a very basic level,” Anna Calvi says about the main concept behind Hunter, her third album. “Perfect, smiling, accommodating. Why do I have to live up to these ideals because of my anatomy?”
Jack Tatum’s long-term musical project has entered a variety of musical realms, with this next stage seeing a transition into 80s new wave. Indigo borrows different aspects from his previous work, whilst still managing to sound fresh and ambitious.
The quirky natured New Yorkers fronted by the wonderful Darwin Smith are back, bringing with them a delightful narrative-led record which depicts exactly what it says on the tin. 10 Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart could not be more literal, this is an album of love, loss and a rekindling heart; if you were a fan of the Darwin Deez debut back in 2010, you’ll certainly find some familiar territory here.
Still riding high after all these years (it’s been 12 years since their debut album Inside In/Inside Out), another high-profile festival slot at Reading and Leeds proves that The Kooks remain one of this country’s most beloved indie bands. With a huge array of anthems and bangers at their disposal, they can always be relied upon to fire up any field or arena full of party people.
A duo forged somewhere between Barrow and Norway via Liverpool, Her’s are a band that seem to exist in a parallel dimension. They live in a world that is nearly, but not quite, the same as ours. Their eccentric, off-kilter songs have been catching the eye for a few years now, and at last a debut album that captures all of their fun and magic has arrived. Buckle up and accept the invitation.
Devon’s own Muncie Girls’ first record managed to perfectly bridge the gap between punk and catchy indie-pop. The three-piece have managed to do the same this time around only with a deeper exploration into frontwoman Lande Hekt’s personal life, as she explores themes of metal health, family life and sexism. Fixed Ideals sees Hekt eloquently deliver these topics under the backdrop of catchy hooks and intense melodies.
Black Rainbow Sound is a band coming into their own. Menace Beach have released two great albums, Ratworld and Lemon Memory, over the past few years, however, for their third album they shift up a gear massively. Production-wise this is the best the band have sounded: well-rounded and sharp. Black Rainbow Sound above anything is exciting to listen to, the album that Menace Beach were always destined to make.
“We really wanted to do a Tunng record going back to the original line-up,” founder member Mike Lindsay has said about Songs You Make At Night. “There was a real magic in the early records that we all wanted to capture again in this one.” Lindsay is right. There was a magic about early Tunng, a group who spearheaded the (albeit small) wave of folktronica artists that infiltrated the musical landscape back in the mid-00s. In particular, their 2005 debut Mothers Daughter and Other Tales, and the 2006 follow-up Comments of the Inner Chorus, with songs such as ‘Tale From Black’, ‘Woodcat’, and ‘Jenny Again’ depicting a noirish and surrealistic world, amplified by an otherworldly mix of glitchy electronica, and natural acoustic timbres. While a largely underground phenomenon at the time, the idea of incorporating acoustic instrumentation with dance/electronic rhythms and beats has became normalised in 2018, whilst still remaining somewhat of a leftfield pursuit, with acts such as Seamus Fogarty flying the flag, alongside a resurgent Tunng.