Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums, EPs and singles from Broken Social Scene, This Is The Kit, Waxahatchee, Lucy Rose and Japanese Breakfast.
Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
City Slang, 7.7 | Buy
Lead single ‘Halfway Home’ proved that, after a seven year hiatus, Canadian uber-group Broken Social Scene haven’t lost their touch. When the title track followed, with lead vocals effortlessly piped by original member Leslie Feist, we knew we were in for something special, and on record, the softly-sung track is a respite-providing island amongst the soaring anthemics of the group’s fifth offering.
Elsewhere, the hooks are real, but interestingly, de facto frontman Kevin Drew’s vocal presence is reserved compared to previous releases. But it works, and results in two things: familiar, soaring indie anthems, but a much deeper group dynamic. From pounding guitar-fest ‘Vanity Pail Kids’ to harmonic call to action in ‘Protest Song’ – a frenetic offering featuring notable long-term member Emily Haines.
In total, 15 performers are on this record. Too many cooks? No. The broth is bubbling, heavily-accented with songs that jive from an electric spice to the downright palette-cleansing. But a final thought: it’s worth admitting this record isn’t caught up in progression. Instead, it gives long-term fans a record worthy of their devotion. Andy Price
This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze
Rough Trade, 7.7 | Buy
The fourth album from former Bristol resident Kate Stables and her band, a.k.a. This Is The Kit, is their debut label release for Rough Trade and is a slightly more polished affair than Stables’ previous output. Production from PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish helps bring a timeless studio sheen to the band’s soothing style of folk rock. Moonshine Freeze manages to allude to both the traditional and the modern without sounding outdated or boring. The album is not a radical departure for the laid-back band but it still oozes warmth despite the album’s cold title, especially with Stables’ comforting voice and the summery instrumentation on the more upbeat tracks, such as ‘Hotter Colder’ where flourishes of almost African guitar and saxophones bring the song to a close.
The album was inspired by moonlit nights and, while there is a lullaby-like quality to a lot of the songs, this is a record to be appreciated at all times. Stables’ music has the quality of being both simultaneously relaxed and captivating. Moonshine Freeze is a welcome addition to her already impressive back catalogue. Tim Ellis
Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
Merge, 14.7 | Buy
Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee has always dealt in serene beauty. While her fourth album Out In the Storm still glimmers with an air of tranquility, it’s always fleeting. This album is driven by constantly shifting forces. The opening pound of ‘Never Been Wrong’ is a jagged exorcism, all wide-eyed and lashing tongues while ‘Sparks Fly’ is a tightly wound bundle of excited freedom. Elsewhere ‘8-Ball’ beats with a heart of glass, gigantic and glistening before ‘Fade’ quietly reflects on distances travelled.
Throughout the record, Crutchfield tears the painting from the frame and scrawls over it with red, purple and black. Fragile turns to fearless. Beauty a participation sport. There’s no desire to maintain the way things used to be, this is a record about the new and the undiscovered past. In the thick of it Out In The Storm sees Waxahatchee explore getting lost with other people while trying not to disappear completely. Both require leaps of faith into the unknown and there’s a pause to collect before every movement onwards. Luckily there’s a raging fire guiding the way forward. Ali Shutler
Oro Swimming Hour – Penrose Winoa
Art is Hard, 28.7 | Buy
Oro Swimming Hour is the enigmatic combination of prolific songwriter Oliver Wilde and children’s book illustrator (and musician) Nicolas Stevenson. In just five short days the duo recorded Penrose Winoa – a wholehearted and genuine collection of concise pop songs that mingle and warble intermittently with beauty and tender vulnerability.
The record as a whole hums within its audible nebula, glowing within its analogue format as each voice and instrument floats with spontaneous idiosyncrasy. With each direction they take being so singular, it’s impressive how pragmatic and well-balanced a record it is, a seamless spirit runs through its structure almost as if a guiding light for us to follow. Ross Jones
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – The Echo of Pleasure
Painbow, 14.7 | Buy
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s 2017 offering abounds with the joys of being 1990 at heart. Kip Berman’s fourth release evokes 2009’s self-titled album in its shoegazey, happy-daze jangle, whilst reprising strong electronic elements from 2011’s Belong. Made when Berman’s wife was six months pregnant, The Echo of Pleasure reverberates with the fullness and happiness of love suggested by the title, yet the echo of pleasure can also be a fearfully fading one, anticipating a life change.
‘The Garret’ is Echo and the Bunnymen filtered through Bizarro-era Wedding Present, ‘Anymore’ is James done MBV-style, while ‘So True’ is a gorgeous gumbo of Saint Etienne and New Order. Jon Kean
Childhood – Universal High
Marathon Artists, 21.7 | Buy
A few years ago, you’ll remember Childhood as one of those hotly sold summer bands who were going to be absolutely huge. Although off the back of their strong debut album Lacuna, they seemed to be somewhat unfairly overlooked.
Now with the follow up they’ve bounced back and built upon the sound we first enjoyed; slickly produced and with some genuinely refreshing, soulful sounds going on. It’s a record which is happy to move at its own speed and take it steady. The band are very much playing the indie-guitar-band-with-psych-sensibilities card, so the question is, will it stand out in the current musical landscape? Rhys Buchanan
Breakfast Muff – Eurgh!
Armour Foo, 7.7 | Buy
With sheer unabashed attitude and emotion, Breakfast Muff’s aptly entitled debut Eurgh! relays relatable frustrations and anxieties via the trio’s punchy DIY punk sound. On ‘R U A Feminist’ the Glasgow-based band confront creepy faux-feminists with anthemic rigour, whilst ‘Baby Boomers’ swells with a defiant clattering of riffs and fervent vocals as they express exasperation at the ridiculous expectations heaped on younger generations.
There’s a vivacity that surges through the record in all its uncompromisingly raucous, brazen, earnest and swooning sounds; from the scuzzy immediacy of ‘Lunch Money’ to the gentle lilting of ‘Waving Cat’, Eurgh! is exactly the kind of fierce and affirming album we need right now. Kezia Cochrane
Lucy Rose – Something’s Changing
Communion Records, 14.7 | Buy
Lucy Rose has built a musical career weaving tender tales of heartbreak through her trusty guitar. Her third effort Something’s Changing follows in a similar vein, but her homegrown harmonies can only carry her so far. While ‘Is This Called Home’ and ‘Find Myself’ show glittering shreds of ambition, they quickly deviate back to the cosy acoustic formula.
As far as singer-songwriters go though, this is a raw record, with last track ‘I Can’t Change’ providing a stunning finish through lyrics drenched in universal truths. The crushing irony of this record is that despite the title, it sticks to the same steady pace that we’re used to hearing from Lucy Rose. Oliver Evans
Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet
Dead Oceans, 14.7 | Buy
The phrase ‘retro-futurist’ is not one you would associate with artist Michelle Zauner, otherwise known as Japanese Breakfast. Sophomore album Soft Sounds From Another Planet moves away from her debut LP’s warmer indie tones and into something much more unconventional.
Prime example, ‘Machinist’, based on a sci-fi narrative of someone falling in love with a robot, sees Zauner experimenting with auto-tune and synths. These sounds evolve further in ‘Boyish’ with bigger arrangements, harmonies and programmed strings, while the rest of the album does well to balance both the shades of indie and electronica. Zauner’s music remains original and honest as ever, with this new musical direction giving it even greater purpose. Mustafa Mirreh
Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love
Static Shock, 14.7 | Buy
Teased over years by trickling singles, Philadelphia five-piece Sheer Mag have finally unveiled their long awaited debut. Flicking a thesaurus of licks from A to Z (that’s Alphabeat to ZZ Top), Tina Halladay snarls rage and warmth through a tin-can telephone dictation of love, lust, Milk and Honey.
There’s nothing punk rock about taking time to breathe, so it’s chorus after chorus, hit after unrelenting hit. On paper it’s fairly cheesy 70s glam revival (see: ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’), however it’s the genre’s execution of the highest order that swell the record to bold and beastly heights. Think Royal Headache if Joan Jett scrambled to steal the mic. Richard Walsh
Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
Play It Again Sam, 7.7 | Buy
As we now know, you can’t trust the press for an honest portrayal of history. Thankfully, 6Music’s favourite duo are back, documenting a pivotal era in Britain’s past more accurately and passionately than any tabloid attempt.
The pulsing, surprisingly upbeat and only occasionally pedestrian Every Valley portrays the rise and fall of the Welsh coal miners, avoiding mawkish sentimentality whilst nestling snippets of dialogue amongst guest vocalists including Manics’ James Dead Bradfield. The result is a poignant collage; a pastoral cousin to Boards of Canada’s analogue retro-futurism, 2014 film Pride’s account of the era, and, on ‘All Out’, the brash doom of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A focused effort. Adam Brooks
Lambhorn – Cascade
Self-released, 14.7 | Buy
Bristol quintet Lambhorn dive deep with their much-anticipated debut album, Cascade; a richly textured instrumental voyage exploring a conceptual ocean landscape. Opening with glistening, twinkling layers of guitar, the band navigate between undulating melodies carried along in blissful undercurrents and propel us through coursing, dramatic overtones on songs such as ‘Without Waves’ and ‘The Great Below’, allowing for the crashing intensity to give way to vast space.
This unrestrained sense of duality carries the album throughout – bearing gifts such as the fuzzed-out guitar solo bringing ‘Deeper’ to its euphoric climax. The culmination and projection of five years of writing, Cascade is a breathtaking jewel of a debut album to behold. Ash Clarke