I started writing this post on Saturday, in the knowledge Radiohead had an album in the works, but not that promotion of it was going to start this weekend. They somewhat fortuitously started teasing things on Sunday, so I held off publishing what I’d written until there was actually something solid to say.
‘Burn the Witch‘ sounds alright on first inspection – an old bootleg updated with Jonny Greenwood’s orchestral touches and Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace electronics – and the Wicker Man in Trumpton video is great.
As there’s nothing much else to go on at this point, here’s the rest of the post I was writing:
Spring appears to have finally sprung and summer’s just round the corner, so you’re going to need some music to crank in the car, stick on during a barbecue or simply liven up a sunny commute.
After a fairly slow start to the year, it feels like there’s a tonne of excellent new stuff around to pick from, so here’s a rough run-through of what’s been entertaining my ears recently:
Starting with hip hop, news broke on Friday for those backing De La Soul’s album Kickstarter that while said LP is now delayed until August 26th, there’s a teaser EP out for all to hear.
As you may remember, back in November Posdnuos, Trugoy and Maseo promised ‘And The Anonymous Nobody’ would arrive at the end of April, but an update on their crowdfunding page explained that dealing with their own distribution since going label free has been harder than anticipated.
As a token to their fans, they instead posted the aptly-titled ‘For Your Pain & Suffering’ four track:
In the last few weeks we’ve also had the announcement of a new record from DJ Shadow. To be honest, I’d all but given up on Josh Davis’ career after successive disappointments in the form of 2011’s ‘The Less You Know The Better’ and the ‘Liquid Amber’ release in 2014, but early details of collaborations with Nils Frahm and Run the Jewels got my hopes up again.
Entitled ‘Mountain Will Fall’ and out on June 24th via Mass Appeal, it is indeed the track with El-P and Killer Mike that’s going some way to restoring my faith in the Bay Area’s finest beat maker.
Meanwhile, the most obvious pretender to Shadow’s throne, RJD2, also has a new record out. ‘Dame Fortune’ is Ramble Jon Krohn’s sixth album and sees him treading similar ground to previous works, with lots of soulful instrumental numbers and a few funky foundations for friends like Phonte Coleman and Jordan Brown work over.
I’ll finish this section with a couple of the most unique voices in rap, and old favourites of mine from back when Definitive Jux reigned supreme.
First up, white-boy weirdo Aesop Rock returns with ‘The Impossible Kid’, just out on Rhymesayers, marking his first proper solo work since 2012’s ‘Skelethon’.
As per usual, its a mix of the dark and light production, complex rhymes and dick jokes. According to the blurb on his Bandcamp page, it was created during a “turbulent handful of years that culminated in leaving his adopted home of San Francisco to live in a barn out in the woods”. Whatever the process, the end product sounds great.
The other voice I always loved is that of Mr Lif, who also makes a long overdue return with ‘Don’t Look Down‘; his first work in seven years. It features a few more old favourites in the form of Edan and Del that Funky Hompsapien, the latter’s contribution being an early posted here for your delectation:
Ditching the MCs, but staying downtempo, there’s a new one from Gold Panda due to drop on the 27th of May. It’s called ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’, which were apparently parting words from a taxi driver the Peckham producer met whilst traveling around Japan.
Along with obvious far eastern influences, he recently told The Ransom Note that “I wanted to make a bunch of tracks that I could play in the car”; hence my pick of the tracks he’s so far debuted from the album:
Someone he often gets compared to is Bibio, another slightly leftfield British producer quietly making lovely music off on the fringes of the scene. There’s is the sound track of the subliminal, in that you’ll probably have unconcisouly bobbed your head to it while in a trendy clothes shop or cafe. While that may sound like a dig, it couldn’t be further from my feelings.
Stephen Wilkinson’s latest, ‘A Mineral Love‘, is full of warm, natural notes to lull you into a happy place. His songs have that same hazy reminiscence thing as fellow Warp label mates Boards of Canada, but without the sinister undertones.
Moving back across the pond, it’s almost time to hear the long-awaited debut album from Haitian-Canadian Louis Kevin Celestin, AKA Kaytranada. Early EPs and remix work caught the ear of XL, which signed him at the end of 2014 and in the last month or so started drip feeding bits and bobs about ‘99.9%’.
It’s out next Friday and features guest spots from Anderson.Paak, AlunaGeorge, Little Dragon and somewhat implausibly, Craig David. This instrumental job with horns and strings by River Tiber and drums from Karriem Riggins has been getting me excited for the last couple of weeks:
Staying stateside, it’s also worth noting Com Truise released a new EP at the start of April. I feel like I’ve written this before, but while ‘Silicon Tare’ isn’t exactly breaking Seth Haley’s mould, it’s such a lovely mould, he could probably still get quite a few more pleasing productions out of it before the fun fades.
The same cannot be said for another artist mercilessly mining 80s nostalgia for inspiration. Anthony Gonzalez nailed it with the 2011 double album ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’ and ubiquitous single ‘Midnight City’, but it really feels like the game is up with his new one ‘Junk‘.
The press pack quotes him as saying: “I wanted to make what I call an ‘organized mess’, a collection of songs that aren’t made to live with each other, yet somehow work together”. Whether he’s succeeded is subjective I suppose, but for my money it’s a lot of the mess and not quite enough of the magic.
A more welcome return comes in the form of Erol Alkan and Richard Norris’ side project Beyond the Wizards Sleeve. The new record is called ‘The Soft Bounce’ and is out at the beginning of July, preceded by this delightful single; ‘Diagram Girl’.
Given I haven’t written anything like this since the end of year round-ups, it’s probably worth just mentioning a few crackers that fell in the months between then and now. Firstly, Massive Attack came back at the end of January with a four-tracker featuring collaborations with Tricky, Young Fathers, Roots Manuva, and Azekel, along with promises of a second EP in the spring and a full album to follow later this year.
Another one I haven’t been able to get out of my head since it broke back near the start of the year is the Boards of Canada rework of Nevermen‘s ‘Mister Mistake’. It starts fairly straight, but then dissolves into trademark BoC, plus that Tunde Adebimpe vocal is still looping through my brain three months later.
A brief sojourn now into indie rock, if you’ll allow it. Not a vintage year yet for guitar-weilders, but I did quite enjoy Josh Homme bringing Iggy Pop out of semi-retirement for ‘Post Pop Depression‘. How he outlived his made David Bowie I’ll never know.
It was also nice to see Primal Scream back making music, with their 11th album ‘Chaosmosis’ coming out in March. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, with trendy ladies Sky Ferreira and Haim recruited to bounce off Bobby Gillespie. Worth a listen through, for highlights like ‘I Can Change’ and ‘Feeling Like A Demon Again’.
Worth mentioning, but not wasting too many words on, are new albums from mid-noughties favourites of mine, Bloc Party and Wolfmother. Both bands have lost key members in recent years, probably due to rather overbearing lead singers. This means their latest work isn’t anywhere near past glories, but if you were a fan have a listen to ‘So Real‘ from Bloc Party’s ‘HYMNS’ and ‘The Love That You Give‘ from Wolfmother’s ‘Victorious’.
Hopefully better things will come from The Kills, who return at the start of June with ‘Ash & Ice’ on Domino. The cooler than you duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince appear to have lost none of their swagger, if recent release ‘Heart of a Dog‘ is anything to go by.
Less information is available on the return of Richard Fearless’ occasionally brilliant Death in Vegas project. All I can find is that the sixth album, ‘Transmission’, will be out on the 27th of this month and first single ‘You Disco Freak’ is presumably an indicator of what to expect.
In a similar sonic vein, but with none of the historical gravitas, are Britghton-based indie electro oddities Fujiya & Miyagi, who are set to release ‘EP 1’, the first of a new triptych, also on May 27th. Have a gander of ‘Serotonin Rushes’ right here.
Moving towards the dancefloor now and another triumphant return. Jeremy Greenspan and Matthew Didemus have been back in the studio as Junior Boys, coming up with a ‘Big Black Coat’ to warm people with in February. The whole album is great, but the one I keep on coming back to is euphoric opener ‘You Said That’.
From old favourites to something completely new, props to my mate Barry for putting me on to the Amsterdam-based Atomnation label and one of its finest members, Russian producer Koett.
In February he released ‘Thaw’, which his Bandcamp page explains was “recorded with a Polyvox (an old Sovjet replica of the Moog), Yahama DX-7, Blofeld Waldorf and the Roland TR-808”, adding “the album could work perfectly for a dark club setting or as a soundtrack for a late-night headphone session”. Agreed.
One of my favourite albums of 2012 was Justin Martin‘s ‘Ghettos & Gardens’. The Dirtybird alumni is back, releasing ‘Hello Clouds’ a fortnight ago and ploughing a similarly bassy furrow as last time, although perhaps with less clear cut winners this time round.
Similarly not quite as good as its predecessor is Leon Vynehall‘s new one ‘Rojus’. To be fair, 2014’s ‘Music For The Uninvited‘ was one of the records of that year, so this is no great disparagement. On the contrary, tracks like ‘Paradisea’ and ‘Blush’ have already established themselves as key musical accompaniments to any pre-club preparations in our house.
Continuing in that vein, here are a couple more “sun’s oot, taps aff” belters to have on standby.
Lindstrom’s return to cosmic disco with ‘Closing Shot’.
Lauer’s beezer run continues on ‘Killian’.
And Four Tet’s saccharine sweet remix of ‘Touch’ by Shura.
Sticking with fun-time dance music, let’s move to New York’s finest, DFA, for a couple of new releases. Firstly, the retro stylings of Holy Ghost, who return from the distinctly underwhelming 2013 full-length ‘Dynamics’ with a much leaner and meaner four-track ‘Crime Cutz’. Stick the title track on your summer playlist at once.
Next Friday, Marcus Lambkin, or Shit Robot to his fans, will also have some new music out. ‘What Follows‘ is his third album for James Murphy’s label and features classic collaborators like Juan Maclean and Nancy Whang, along with fellow Dublin native New Jackson and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor. This all makes for another characteristically propulsive analogue, proto-disco mish mash.
A quick word on everyone’s favourite bassy Berlin trio Moderat, who released ‘III’ – their third album – at the start of April. For me, it’s the least inspiring of the lot, but still a solid piece of work by most standards. Lead single ‘Reminder‘ is the best thing on it, even if it borrows liberally from Skream’s remix of ‘In For The Kill‘ by La Roux.
Also, a quick note on something new from Floating Points, given he delivered one of last year’s finest long players. He’s back with a two-track release called Kuiper. If you’ve been lucky enough to see him live in the last few years, you might know this jam already, but if not, here’s a video of the 18-minute title song:
This post is already far too long, but if you’re still with me, just a few more house-y things to finish.
Two of my favourite labels have compilations out at the moment – DJ Koze presenting ‘Pampa Vol. 1‘ and Permanent Vacation making their ‘Selected Label Works 5‘ – both lots of secret weapons to be unearthed.
Meanwhile, Fabric have signed up a few more industry heavyweights to their mix cannon, with Eats Everything delivering Saturday night session number 86 and Groove Armada in the frame for FabricLive 87.
Two of the other surviving series’, Balance and DJ-Kicks, have also continued to justify their continued existence, bringing Patrice Bäumel and Moodyman to the party, respectively. Both are superbly selected sets, in very different ways: the former delivering a silky smooth tech-house masterclass, while Detroit’s finest goes properly eclectic with his effort (hat tip for introducing me to this track and artist).
That’ll do it for now. As ever, if there’s anything amazing I’ve overlooked, please let me know below.
FYI – I’d usually just make an 8tracks playlist for this kind of thing, but in February they decided anyone outside of North America would have their ‘mixes’ reduced to often incomplete YouTube playlists, so until I figure out Spotify like a normal person, you’ll have to just make your own.