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Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin (Merge)
Please see my full review here.
Stiff Little Fingers – No Going Back (Rigid Digits)
Please see my full review here.
Popstrangers – Fortuna (Carpark)
I liked this London via Auckland, New Zealand band’s debut Antipodes, but frankly the brand new Fortuna blows it away. Instead of late ’80s/early ’90s inspired stuff that owes more than a little to Pixies, Sonic Youth and the like, what we have here is an album that is moodier, more varied in texture and just flat out better in terms of songwriting. Early ’80s post-punk is definitely a touchstone, but oddly this reminds me way more of early ’00s post-punk revival bands like the underrated Longwave or even some of the lighter songs by Radiohead circa The Bends. The cover art is gorgeous, too, and that is significant because that is becoming a lost art!
Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business (Harvest)
I may write a full review of this one once I give it more listens, but from hearing the four songs he released from this album before it came out and from the exposure I’ve had to the whole thing, I can safely say that this is his best work since at least 2004’s You Are the Quarry if not even further, going back to 1994’s Vauxhall and I.
Beverly – Careers (Kanine)
Much of the press around this album has focused on the participation of Frankie Rose, who does sing beautifully on here (though she is no longer part of the band). To be honest, that was what sparked my initial interest in this band, too, but while I may have come for Frankie Rose, I stayed for the songs of Pains of Being Pure at Heart touring keyboardist Drew Citron. The sound here is closer to Best Coast‘s early years than to any of the aforementioned bands, but there is more going on here. On different tracks, I hear Wire, Sonic Youth and Neu! as influences as well. Still, this is a great summer album, perfect for strolls along the beach. If your heart doesn’t melt while listening to “Honey Do” and its erstwhile hooks, well then this album is just not for you.
Big Boys – Lullabies Help the Brain Grow (Light in the Attic)
Though I skipped the reissue of their last album (also just released back in May) because I have an original copy, I never owned this one on vinyl before, so I picked it up. The packaging is gorgeous with a gatefold sleeve, previously unused photos and a lyric sheet. Some liner notes would have been nice, but with music this great (Light in the Attic does it again in terms of their pressing quality, too) I am not complaining! And on some days, this is my favorite of all of their releases. Want evidence? Go straight to “Sound on Sound” or “Manipulation” or the incendiary opening track “We Got Your Money.”
Slowness – How to Keep from Falling Off a Mountain (Greenfuse)
I liked their last album For Those Who Wish to See the Glass Half Full, but I think this one is even better. On occasion, this is like listening to a dreamier, more laid-back version of Wire‘s 154. I’m not sure that the last track on the digital version is really necessary as it’s just a composite of the last four tracks before it, but once this is done, you’ll wanna hear it again anyway, so why not?
A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent (Lefse)
This was my first exposure to A Sunny Day in Glasgow even though they are locals who stretch back 10 years or so. I know vocalist Jen Goma from her appearance on the most recent record by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and just like on Days of Abandon, she (along with co-vocalist Anne Frederickson) steals the show here as well. This album is like shoegaze with Hi-NRG melodies, an odd combination that somehow works.
Ray Creature – Ray Creature (Sister Cylinder)
It’s interesting that the first full-length release on the great label run by Scott Ferguson of Kam Kama is not a release by his own band (though hopefully the long-awaited Lp by his own band will come out at some point), but one by the nom de plume of Jon Erich Booth. Originally started as his solo project, Ray Creature is now a duo with Natascha Buehnerkemper helping out on percussion, bass and vocals. So what we have here is hard-edged synth-pop with vocals that veer between late ’70s David Bowie and Lux Interior territory. If you like that sort of thing, I heartily recommend this release.
Priests – Bodies and Control and Money and Power (Don Giovanni/Sister Polygon)
Coming off the excellent “Radiation”/“Personal Planes” 7” released last year, this (their debut 12” EP) ups the ante even further by delivering the kind of full-fledged assault on the senses (8 songs in 17 minutes) that was commonplace in late ’70s New York or early ’90s Olympia as well as their native Washington, D.C. Still, they are no throwback or copycat as songs like “Right Wing” as well as “And Breeding” address topics pertinent to the here and now in 2014. Thus, they feel very current and continue to prove that they are one of the most vital bands around now.
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