Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums from Mitski, Big Deal, The Kills and Ladyhawke as well as a local treat from Screamin’ Miss Jackson & The Slap Ya’ Mama Big Band.
Big Deal – Say Yes
10th June, FatCat Records | Buy
Say Yes is album three from Big Deal and their first in as many years. While there are a combination of styles at work here, most immediate is the sound of early noise rock, drawing for starters on the likes of Sonic Youth. The fuzz-bubbled vocals are certainly one of the most distinctive and defining characteristics throughout the album, proving there’s a huge helping of shoegaze at play here.
The band clatter along in this vein with washings of distortion and conviction in equal measure; but that’s not to say they’re phoning it in. The guitarwork even verges on Americana, both giving sufficient punch to the more driving tracks and injecting emotion into the more Patti Smith-style balladry. While no particular song begs for a repeat play, the album as a whole makes for a resoundingly good listen; where those who persevere will discover the subtler nuances of the project. Stuart Tidy
Fear Of Men – Fall Forever
3rd June, Kanine Records | Buy
Fear of Men’s second album Fall Forever was introduced by the irresistible ‘Island’, a track that showed vocalist Jessica Weiss stronger, more resilient and not taking no for an answer. It’s a theme that runs through the entirety of Fall Forever, an album that’s a clear step up for the band.’Trauma’ is another highlight, with the jangly Johnny Marr-esque guitars of debut album ‘Loom’ giving way to creeping synths.
Michael Miles’ drums take centre stage on ‘Until You’, proving him to be one of the most unique sticksmen around. Musically, it’s not the drastic reinvention the band had hinted at, but remains a refinement and improvement in every department. Will Richards
Ladyhawke – Wild Things
3rd June, Polyvinyl Record Co. | Buy
For her third album, Ladyhawke’s Pip Bown delivers another set of mid-tempo pop songs. Wild Things is less guitar-based and more synth-heavy electropop — in a similar vein to the likes of Chvrches — and certainly a more contemporary sound than the eighties and Fleetwood Mac influences of her previous work.
Although a pretty solid effort, there is nothing on here as catchy as the singles from 2008’s self-titled debut, despite recent single ‘Sweet Fascination’ and tracks such as ‘Wonderland’ are full of melodic hooks. It may not be pop album of the year, but Wild things has a lot to offer for existing admirers and fans of alternative pop. Tim Ellis
Whitney – Light Upon The Lake
3rd June, Secretly Canadian | Buy
Featuring former members of Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Whitney were a much talked about act before a note of music had even been released. Luckily, Light Upon The Lake delivers on this promise – it’s a glorious, hazy ten-track set that twists and turns its way through summer days.
Though elements of the members’ former bands inevitably worm their way into the album, Light Upon The Lake retains its individuality, seemingly feeling none of the pressure that such an anticipated debut release may have brought them. As the days get longer, Whitney’s debut feels like a friend to carry through the summer and treasure for a long time. Will Richards
The Kills – Ash & Ice
3rd June, Domino Recording Co. | Buy
Ash & Ice contains all you would expect from The Kills – stark rhythms, dirt, intimidation and sex. The duo’s fifth studio album was written during their five year absence, despite guitarist Jamie Hince recovering from multiple hand surgeries. The singles ‘Doing it to Death’ and ‘Heart of a Dog’ feature the usual scuzz-rock posturings of the band, however ‘Siberian Nights’ deviates with some subtle but intriguing folk-rock guitar.
Alison Mosshart’s vocals snarl across each of the album’s tracks, crooning only for the sauntering, piano-driven ‘That Love’. The effects-laden ‘Echo Home’ showcases the band’s minimalist dynamics to new, intimate effect on an album of otherwise raw and inventive rock’n’roll. Michael Liggins
Flamingods – Majesty
10th June, Soundway Records | Buy
Flamingods’ follow-up to 2014’s Hyperborea is yet another highly disparate effort from this trans-continental band. Such distance has had varied effects on the music, with things often lacking a sense of unification as they move between instrumentally verbose sections, but it’s their strong theme — namely the ‘search for enlightenment’ — which sews things together.
Despite midway track ‘Anya’ straying somewhere into post rock territory, the overall feeling of Majesty is one of late 60’s folk-psychedelia; not unlike the trailblazing 13th Floor Elevators. It seems Flamingods’ calling card is one of self-indulgence, but forgivably so, as they spew a multitude of instruments, techniques, and beat concoctions to create something fascinating for any co-passenger to enjoy. Stuart Tidy
Cat’s Eyes – Treasure House
3rd June, RAF/Kobalt | Buy
Treasure House is the first official Cat’s Eyes album to be announced since their self-titled debut back in 2011. It comes after the alt-pop duo’s haunting soundtrack to Peter Strickland’s erotic drama The Duke of Burgundy, which was released early last year.
The lush orchestration featured on the album’s initial run of songs are somewhat disrupted by ‘Be Careful Where You Park Your Car’, with the doo-wop abrasiveness seeming misplaced compared to the cinematic textures of ‘Girl In The Room’ or the sophisticated ambience of ‘The Missing Hour’. It’s soaring lead single ‘Chameleon Queen’ and dreamy Lynchian piano ballad ‘Teardrops’ that ultimately validates this album’s worthy title. Michael Liggins
Mitski – Puberty 2
17th June, Dead Oceans | Buy
Pulsing electronic beats kick off the proceedings here and, as Mitski’s voice softly croons, you’d be forgiven for thinking the New Yorker is taking a more reserved, sparser approach on her fourth record. But it only takes a minute for the illusion to be shattered, as drums clatter in and a sax bursts to life.
From here on, Puberty 2 sweeps away on a rollercoaster ride of atmospheric, acoustic verses interspersed with Pixies-esque punky hooks. Standout track ‘Your Best American Girl’ combines both, as the singer details her tentative realisation of self-identity. This theme of fulfilling potential makes a nice descriptor for the album itself; Mitski’s most assured and confident release yet. Joshua Price
PAWS – No Grace
17th June, FatCat Records | Buy
Reflecting on PAWS’ last two albums, No Grace is a fitting name for the Scottish trio’s third effort. Produced by Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, No Grace sounds naturally more muscular, allowing the band to take all the potential we’ve seen to staggering new heights.
‘Empire State’ and ‘Complete Contempt’ are colossal tunes, glowering with confidence and dripping with reverb. ‘Clarity’ is no doubt the highlight however, with its perfectly chaotic blitz of guitars matched only by the weary defiance of frontman Phillip Taylor, as he questions: “Is it worse to be dead or dying?” One thing is clear however, PAWS are neither; on this raucous record, they’ve never sounded more alive. Oliver Evans
Screamin’ Miss Jackson & The Slap Ya’ Mama Big Band – I Heard The Voice of a Donut
20th June, Self-release | Buy
Ever wonder why you’ve experienced so many great ‘roots’ shows at The Stag over the years? Well, it’s really down to sincere passion. So much so that, along with a few pals, some of the people behind the venue have made their own mark with seven-strong troupe Screamin’ Miss Jackson & The Slap Ya’ Mama Big Band.
This month they funnel their renowned blend of Americana, hokum, jazz, hillbilly and swing away from the whisky-soaked live circuit and into LP form for the first time; 12 tracks of time-travelling narratives so convincing that it almost feels like a concept album. Show a little willing and it’s easy to become lost in their world. Loki Lillistone