Check out some of the best new releases this month including our cover star Chaouche’s debut album, Snail Mail, Let’s Eat Grandma and more.
Chaouche – Safe
Late Night Tales | 15.06
From the first lingering, swirling intonations of Safe, Chaouche purveys a poignant and stunning emotive depth. ‘My Friend’, the opening track of the Bristol-based musician’s powerful debut, proffers cascading piano melodies and a pulsing beats, over which her rich, tender vibrato soars. A record of catharsis and healing, the tracks confront particular memories from Aisha Chaouche’s formative years, and through her music the multi-instrumentalist and producer transforms pain into strength and conveys an overarching sense of serenity.
‘I’ offers celestial, choral incantations, accompanied by pared-down drum beats. ‘I’ll Lose My Head’ again brings this hymnal quality, which Chaouche marries with glistening electronic embellishments. ‘What’s Next?’ introduces wavering, brooding electronica alongside delicate, twinkling instrumentation and echoing vocals that crescendo into a whirring and reverberating discord of sounds. Oscillating with the utmost grace from sparse, enduring moments to densely-layered compositions, Safe is a remarkable debut record of affecting intimacy and richly-textured sonic grandeur that leaves a lasting impression. Kezia Cochrane
Snail Mail – Lush
Matador | 8.06
We’ve been spoilt for captivating female solo musicians in the last few years, and Snail Mail is the next to have knocked it out of the park with a debut album. There’s something striking about an eighteen-year-old singing about the disorientating nature of youth, and it’s clear from proper opener, ‘Pristine’ just how good things are going to be.
Perhaps the most unsuspecting highlight, though, comes in ‘Let’s Find An Out’, a track which deftly displays both her emotional awareness and sensitive guitar skills. This album makes it hard to believe that Lindsey Jordan has barley left high school, with its irresistible richness and maturity in both sound and spirit. Rhys Buchanan
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
Transgressive | 29.06
Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton’s latest album is a neon-highlighted dance record wrapped in a modern teenage nightmare. With a lot of hype under their belts and youth on their side, it’s easy to see I’m All Ears as a coming of age.
On single, ‘Falling Into Me’, the simple yet infectious synth hook and lyrics like, “Beating right through the denim/You left a dent in my home screen” paint a picture of walking into the 5am light after leaving a smoke-filled bar. The minimalist piano of ‘Ava’, however, shows range and proves that there are small respites in Let’s Eat Grandma’s glitter-coated trip. Albert Testani
LICE – It All Worked Out Great Vol 1 & Vol 2
Balley | Out Now
Alright, stop, collaborate and listen. LICE have crystallised their weapons-grade satirical art-punk into a double-EP of early-career songs. With strains of The Fall’s Mark E Smith and The Sultans of Ping’s Niall O’Flaherty, Alistair Shuttleworth recites inciteful tales of rancid humanity. Every identifiable boil is lanced. It’s cathartic.
‘Gentlemen’s Magazine’ and ‘Saccharine’ feel like gothic surf-rock. ‘Little John Waynes’ is a slow-grunge, apocalyptic spaghetti Western theme. ‘Stammering Bill’ has neurotic rolling toms and a churning bassline. No-wave jazz cuts through ‘Ted’s Dead’ with a cornet solo from Iceman Furniss. ‘Voyeur Picture Salesman’ is an unlikely homage to George Formby. Who could devise such refined ruffianism? LICE, LICE, baby. Jon Kean
Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
Warp | 01.06
On Age Of, producer Daniel Lopatin has adopted the baroque electronics of Arca, transplanting the plainsong of Bjork’s protégé from towering cathedral spires to a more forgiving, open-air sound signature. The album breathes deep in this expansive setting.
The frantic, cloistered polyrhythms of Garden of Delete are barely used here, replaced with considered, near-acoustic instrumentation and a dominant vocal presence. Keyboard squalls bow to rounder Hammond sounds, plucked strings and full-bodied drums. And while the opening salvo of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Manifold’ recall the synth edge of fellow soundtracker Disasterpiece, the naturalistic wandering on the remainder of Age Of is new territory for OPN, and could prove divisive. Grant Bailey
Protomartyr – Consolation EP
Domino | 15.06
Protomartyr had such momentum after recording the album Relatives in Descent, that they took a weekend jaunt to Kentucky in May 2017 to record the Consolation EP. Considering its name, it’s certainly no runner-up to its longer-playing forbear.
With the poetic leanings of The Blue Aeroplanes and a combination of alt- and art-rock, it feels like a restlessly unstable Hold Steady, or an Allen Ginsberg-fronted Pixies. Highlights include Joe Casey and Kelley Deal’s thrillingly sinister duet of “I decide who lives and who dies,” on ‘Wheel of Fortune’, the chant of “Keep me above this filth,” on ‘Wait’ and Alex Leonard’s fevered, tachycardic drum lines. Quite a weekend’s work. Jon Kean
Hilary Woods – Colt
Sacred Bones | 08.06
Created as a way to “process and make sense of the everyday,” Hilary Woods’ debut LP Colt flawlessly details the Dublin musician’s personal excursion through the darkest of times.
‘Inhaler’ opens the record beautifully, with a heartbreaking and atmospheric piano track, echoing stories of lost love and grief. Ambient strings and acoustic harmonies lay perfectly alongside Woods’ haunting vocal work, providing an enchanting delicacy to the album. ‘Prodigal Dog’ and ‘Kith’ are meditative and intense, while the prominent electronic beats of ‘Jesus Said’ present an intriguing masterpiece. ‘Black Rainbow’ eventually floats by in an intoxicating dream-pop haze, before album closer ‘Limbs’ gently slows the ambient soundscapes to a peaceful halt. Kelly Ronaldson
Modern Rituals – The Light That Leaks In
Holy Roar | 22.06
Having recently signed to Holy Roar Records, Bristol-via-London quartet, Modern Rituals have certainly done themselves proud on their forthcoming noise-rock debut. Flirting with the sounds of punk and more ambient undertones, the eleven-track album echoes the post-hardcore influences of early Brand New and Touché Amore, particularly throughout ‘Protrusion’.
The record’s most significant track is likely recent single, ‘Hermit Kuppling’, providing a brilliant summary of the album as a whole. At this point a welcome grunge vibe kicks things up a notch, building on the band’s earlier releases during ‘Maudlin’ and ‘A Guide for the Sick’, while the acoustic melodies of ‘Combine’ perfectly contrast their traditional lo-fi style. Kelly Ronaldson
Boy Azooga – 1, 2, Kung Fu!
PIAS | 08.06
Quick, sharp and funky from start to finish, 1, 2 Kung Fu! packs a punch. With upbeat, instrumentally-led tracks, flawlessly paired with lead singer Davey Newington’s cool vocals, the album makes for the perfect musical introduction to what this band is all about.
It’s erratic, head-boppingly rocky and impossible not to groove to. Stand-out tracks ‘Jerry’ and ‘Waitin’ have a crazy, ethereal, electronic vibe to them, which I’m personally obsessed with, having never heard anything quite like it. Boy Azooga have created something unpredictable and fresh, with each track bringing something different to the table. The result is a well-rounded debut album which is bound to impress this year’s festival crowds. Catrin Bishop
Tancred – Night Stand
Polyvinyl | 01.06
Moving from atmospheric, dreamy pop-rock to indie-Americana guitar jams is something former Now, Now guitarist, Jess Abbott has done smoothly as Tancred. Now on her fourth album, these eleven simply-formed tracks feature catchy choruses, perfectly curated for live recall.
Reminiscent of classic 00s indie-rock, the guitar riffs surely demonstrate her background, whilst there is a hint of Australian surf-rock in its feel-good simplicity. While not a groundbreaking record, the lyrics speak of a more vulnerable side to Abbott, with themes of loss, frustration and escapism over guitar-focused melodies. Nightstand places Tancred on an established continuum in the classic American indie-rock sphere. Eloise Davis
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage
Domino | 15.06
Following scrapped recording sessions with her former boyfriend – Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker – and a serious accident that left her hospitalised, Melody Protchet returns with a heady batch of new tunes.
‘Desert Horse’ and ‘Cross My Heart’ show off dizzying instrumental tricks with spiralling synths and twisting riffs, while ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ brings a warm lo-fi feel, dipping even into Breeders territory. Mix that with closer ‘Shirim’, that spasms between saccharine guitars and psychedelic grunge, and things don’t get any clearer. Sure it’s not the most consistent record, but it is a cathartic and beautiful comeback. This shapeshifting set of psych-folk-rock gems assures us she hasn’t lost any of her magic. Oliver Evans
LUMP – LUMP
Dead Oceans | 01.06
LUMP, the project of angelic folkster Laura Marling and experimental producer Mike Lindsay, is a well-considered collection of tracks, combining a darker strand of those iconic Marling vocals with ethereal wind instruments and disconcerting yet enchanting melodies.
Intricately strung together, the electronic basslines and recurring riffs add a bigger and more ambitious sound to Marling’s former work, with a catchier and more varied version of Lindsay’s. Tracks like ‘Curse of the Contemporary’ and ‘Rolling Thunder’ prove to be intriguing and textured earworms, while lyrically providing ambiguous commentary on 21st century life. The collaboration between two such legendary figures comes with certain expectations, which this record both challenges and supersedes. Eloise Davis
Youth Man – Five songs EP
Alcopop! | 29.06
This EP is a concentrated musical frenzy that burps up a cascade of attitude, style and catharsis. The duo’s dirty distortion and clattering drums relentlessly rattle along like a punky London version of The Kills, bar an oddly-placed fade on ‘I Don’t Know’, which bucks the flow somewhat.
The semi-rhapsodic, narrative singing style and accent cannot help but remind you of Skunk Anansie, but the overall sound is far less anthemic. Its aggressive and at times disjointed rhythms give it a post-hardcore feel, that invites you into a small, grubby venue where it batters the life out of you. Stuart Tidy
Stuart A. Staples – Arrhythmia
City Slang | 15.06
Crafting a 30-minute-long track that takes up one whole side of an album may sound inherently anachronistic in 2018. Nonetheless, Stuart A. Staples has made exactly this move in his latest, Arrhythmia – The Tindersticks vocalist and guitarist’s first solo record in thirteen years.
Despite being the closer, the half-hour of ‘Music For A Year In Small Paintings’ defines the landscape of his latest effort: instrumentally-focussed, rarefied, ambient atmospheres, where electric guitars meet vibraphones and a new approach to electronic experimentation. It’s in the first three that Staples’ distinctive voice kicks in, to add depth and darkness to this astounding sonic trip. Guia Cortassa