Pennsylvanian rockers, Nothing, return to the scene with their third studio-length record, Dance On The Blacktop. A record that attempts to break the rules of sound in its own way by flooding each track from start to finish with intense and dreary atmospherics, all encased in a tidal wave of fuzz and ferocity.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Mark Lanegan is always on the cusp of collaboration. After the break up of his successful Seattle-based band Screaming Trees, he released a steady flow of albums as a solo artist on top of his work with Queens of the Stone Age, Soulsavers and Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs.
Punk is back. It’s brutal, insane and filled with more angst than ever before. Bristol legends IDLES have returned with their second full length release, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, a record which I’m already willing to call, with little to no hesitation, album of the year.
In a time where political corruption, mass austerity and a general sense of disgust towards the majority of humanity has taken over, punk has long needed a figurehead to take the reins and capture the emotion of an entire nation. IDLES have not only stepped up to that role, but have done so with flying colours. Whilst their last album, Brutalism, was able to spark the new punk movement to rally the masses, just one year on, it already feels like the flames of revolution have started to rise.
Interpol didn’t quite become the band that their debut record Turn on the Bright Lights – a brilliantly scuzzy slice of post-punk with a sense of brood that evoked Joy Division – promised. Since 2001, they’ve lost members and flirted and subsequently broken up with major labels, but with Marauder, their third LP back with Matador after two well-received self-titled records, the band have gained a taste of consistency. Additionally, after a busy summer, which saw them support the likes of The Cure and Arctic Monkeys, as well as playing huge shows of their own, Interpol are in a good place and their music reflects that.
Exhaustion and loneliness take the shape of something bold and elegant on Be the Cowboy, the new album from Mitski. The playful title is an ode to iconically lonesome film Cowboys, and provides a platform that Mitski uses to unpick love and longing in many forms. We already knew Mitski Miyawaki was all kinds of versatile from her previous five albums, but this release validates that truth. Disco? Check. Country? Definitely. Pop? Literally always. Through them all, and more, Mitski confronts her solitude, her yearning for answers – and for another. Why has fame not brought promised happiness? And if not fame, then what will it take to make her happy? The confessional and confrontational tracks are strung together with Mitski’s wistful vocals, cascading across tracks and through genres. The shininess of pop, marries with nihilism’s cynical despair and, in case it wasn’t clear, I’m really into it.
You don’t get many bands like The Lemon Twigs in a lifetime. They’re genuinely eccentric, seemingly wholesome and talented beyond belief. Go To School is the band pushing the limits of their compositional muscles and the product is unbelievable; it is an album of passion made by two brothers who were “literally raised on Broadway”. Pushing away from Do Hollywood, their brilliant debut from 2016, they didn’t want to give fans a straight up pop album and have pushed as far away from that as they could.
The best music seems to manifest out of periods of struggle. If an artist experiences hardship, then a great number of times this negative energy will be used to create something masterful on a sonic level. Brian Christinzio, otherwise known as BC Camplight, is an American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has managed to create one of the better records of his career through a nightmarish period in his life.
Oh Sees are their own creature entirely. With each album release it seems more as though a tear in our reality has appeared and they briefly seep through to our realm. They are a group that release music in a way that a manic science fiction writer releases book after book without a care for the audience it finds. Smote Reverser is a chapter which suggests the apocalypse is nigh, or at least it does by its cover. Something appropriately coincidental, perhaps.
Second time around and The Coral are still taking delight in what they do best: confounding expectations at every turn. Back in 2002, when the music world was going mad for the retro delights of The Strokes and The White Stripes, they exploded onto the scene with their self-titled debut. It was a psychedelia-drenched record that also delighted in looking backwards, but in a strange world far closer to home. In ‘Dreaming Of You’, it contained one of the finest indie-pop singles of all time, and the following year’s Magic & Medicine continued to show an equal aptitude at melodious, 60s-infused folk-pop. As time progressed, further releases have had more of a low-key appeal, though frontman James Skelly has never lost his keen ear for a heart- stopping melody. In 2012, however, the band announced a hiatus due to solo projects and fears were raised that that was that for The Coral.
It may be their eighth studio album release, but Thank You For Today marks a new beginning for American indie-rock titans Death Cab For Cutie. Following long-standing guitarist and songwriter Chris Walla’s departure immediately before 2015’s Kintsugi, the band have regrouped in a new(ish) line-up with previous touring members Dave Depper and Zac Rae stepping up officially. Produced again by Rich Costey, it manages to be both familiar at the same time as offering tantalising glimpses of a new direction. With blue skies on the album sleeve, it seems that life’s possibilities are opening up once more for this beloved band.