If your October is any manifestation of the recent ‘Stoptober’, fundraising/self-care phenomenon, you’d better hope you’ve not vowed to quit buying albums if these releases are anything to go by:
JACQUES GREENE – DAWN CHORUS
LuckyMe | October 18th
Jacques Greene’s holistic, nuanced approach to electronic music could only come from one of club culture’s true evangelists. A producer keenly aware of the transformative impact of the rave experience, Dawn Chorus stems from the bittersweet bliss that permeates that final Uber home.
The successor to 2017’s long-awaited debut album, Feel Infinite, Dawn Chorus emphasises his grasp of sound design in its pursuit of post-rave reflection. Utilising Joel Ford as mix engineer, it’s both a singular vision and a collective project, with Jacques Greene embracing the importance of technique and process alongside the exquisite final artefact.
‘Distance’ embodies glorious ambience by utilising cello from London’s Oliver Coates, while fellow Canadian artist, Cadence Weapon stars on stunning Paradise Garage-inspired cut, ‘Night Service’. Indeed, this notion of the club as a point of transgressive worship permeates the record, recurring on the gospel-leaning samples that drive ‘For Love’.
It’s a project with admirable breadth: ‘Do It Without You’ is propelled by those crunching, rave-leaning drum breaks, while My Bloody Valentine elements permeate the lush Boards Of Canada synths on ‘Understand’
Conceptually, the album lingers on the process of becoming, of emerging into the new, while Jacques Greene seeks to blur the lines between euphoric abandon and melancholic introspection. These aspects unite on album closer, ‘Stars’, which shuffles between unbridled elation and the curious restraint of the half-whispered vocal. A record dominated by engaging sonic beauty and real emotional impact, Dawn Chorus is an exceptional eulogy to the mercurial rave experience. Robin Murray
KIM GORDON – NO HOME RECORD
Matador | October 11th
Kim Gordon’s solo debut, No Home Record is an often densely electronic album, more akin to the sound of Nine Inch Nails than her work in Sonic Youth or Body/Head – or it would be, were the emotive vocals not so unmistakably hers.
A surprising amount of programmed beats and basslines abound for one so entrenched in the noise-rock scene, though it would have been disappointing from an artist of her calibre to hear Gordon do anything other than go out on a limb once more.
The real treat is that voice of hers: witnessing her tear in to modern pop culture phenomena like Twitter and AirBnB with a mixture of fascination and disgust is a peculiar joy, but a real one. Thomas Hannan
BIG THIEF – TWO HANDS
4AD | October 11th
What a treat it is to have two albums from Big Thief in 2019. If their last record, the dreamy, crepuscular U.F.O.F., isn’t already primed for your end-of-year list, then its decidedly earthier companion, Two Hands will surely take its place. Big Thief created the former in lush woodland surroundings. Immediately afterwards, they decamped to a Texan desert to record the majority of Two Hands – live. That lack of overwrought interference has resulted in a tender and timeless collection of rootsy songs. Assigned to a traditional Side A/Side B split, the songs blend naturally, sometimes as indistinguishable demo offcuts. Highlights include the doomed lovers’ title track, with its urgent arpeggios and clacking percussion, while ‘Not’ serves as the record’s devastatingly visceral apex. Charlotte Krol
DANNY BROWN – UKNOWHATIMSAYIN¿
Warp | October 4th
Has Danny Brown grown up? It’s easy to think so. Laced with features from Run The Jewels, Obongjayar and Blood Orange, uknowhatimsayin¿ has a maturity to it unlike previous releases from the American rapper. Usually recognised by his use of heavy beats and explicit lyrics, Brown has veered into making mellow, jazz-infused tracks for his fifth album. This is particularly obvious in ‘Negro Spiritual’ featuring JPEGMAFIA and produced by Flying Lotus, a collab that could’ve been explosive, but instead feels nonchalant and funky. Nevertheless, Brown maintains his cheeky lyrical storytelling, as the Q-Tip-produced single ‘Dirty Laundry’ has lines like, “So we did the humpty hump in a Burger King bathroom,” to show he’s still got that signature subversive streak under a misleadingly cleaned-up guise. Georgia Evans
HEAVY LUNGS – MEASURE EP
Balley Records | October 10th
After two riotous EPs that have established the band as ones to watch, Bristol’s Heavy Lungs are set to close out 2019 with the release of their third, Measure. Generally, their music taps the same vital energy as the pioneering post-punk of Joy Division, rambunctious squall of Iceage, and uncompromising attitude of IDLES – the latter of which is a name intertwined with Heavy Lungs for more than a single reason, and anyone with even slight cognizance of the previous year in music should already know.
But here, Heavy Lungs make their boldest, most sincere statement so far: a collection of tracks that revolve around the “undeniable importance of self- worth,” urging the listener to take heart and redefine the measures that impede access to joy and better living. Harriet Taylor
NILS FRAHM – ALL ENCORES
Erased Tapes | October 18th
Sometimes when an artist pads out an album with previously-released material, it can feel like a cop-out. But Nils Frahm isn’t just any old artist and, more than anything, we should seize every opportunity to appreciate this collection of songs. Comprised of tracks from all three EPs of the Encores series, it showcases Frahm’s individual and evolving musical styles across each one: piano-led meanderings, ambient soundscapes and more expansive, percussive works. It’s the latter that dish up consistent moments of magic, the bubbling urgency of ‘All Armed’ burning brightest. Yet even when Frahm is at his most ambitious, you get the sense it comes almost effortlessly to him. No wonder he’s considered one of electronic music’s most influential, untouchable figures. All Encores fully justifies that. Lee Wakefield
THE KING DUKES – NUMB TONGUE
Self-Release | October 25th
A self-proclaimed “bunch of misfits, left-behinds, and step-outta-time vagabonds,” The King Dukes release their debut album this month, titled Numb Tongue. Tracks such as ‘I Gotta Go’ and ‘Marlo Cooper’ showcase the band’s work at its finest, boasting infectious helpings of ska-style beats and brass-heavy jazz influences. ‘True True Love’ and ‘Coming Right Back For Your Heart’ portray a romantic and somewhat vulnerable element to the record, while the simplistic melodies of ‘Dying Man’ draw attention to the emotive drones of vocalist, Marc Griffiths. An impressive and unique find, the record is packed with vintage throwbacks to past decades, from the upbeat rockabilly vibes of ‘Keep On Living’ and ‘Caril-Anne’, to the soulful R&B echoes that flow throughout every track. Kelly Ronaldson
LIGHTNING BOLT – SONIC CITADEL
Thrill Jockey | October 11th
Explosive bass/drums duo, Lightning Bolt have spent the past 25 years making more noise than any two American dudes named Brian should be capable of. Their sonic tomfoolery reaches a critical point on their seventh album, striking a newfound balance between scary precision and terrifying power. It’s a potent mix. The whirlwind pulls you from the sheer abrasion of percussive opener, ‘Blow to the Head’ before shoving you into the (almost) polished speed-pop perfection of ‘Husker Don’t’. And while many tunes remain drenched in the Bolt’s trademark echoed reverb, others are remarkably sparse for a change. But it’s the epic nine-minute closer, ‘Van Halen 2049’ that truly confounds with its remorseless melodic trip through a collage of hallucinatory riffs and alarming feedback. Buckle up. Geoff Cowart
FLOATING POINTS – CRUSH
Ninja Tune | October 18th
On his third album, Floating Points sets himself apart from his Ninja Tune colleagues. Some of the biggest names in electronic music are signed to the label – from Diplo to Helena Hauff to Bicep to Peggy Gou – yet the producer-cum-qualified-neuroscientist has achieved an emotional breakthrough with Crush. It’s not all for dancing, nor is all of it melancholic enough for simply contemplating; Floating Points – aka Sam Shepherd – flits between experimental techno, transcendent house and dark ambiance to reach the recesses of the human brain. Do we dance? Do we cry? You’ll find me in the club doing both. From the album opener to Crush‘s final credits, jittery synths and anxious strings settle somewhere among the cinematic stardust of his soundscapes. Georgia Marsh
GIRL BAND – THE TALKIES
Rough Trade | September 27th
From the rasping, panicked breaths of ‘Prolix’ to the electrifying distortion of ‘Ereignis’, Girl Band’s latest offering, The Talkies marks an aggressive and confrontational twelve-track follow-up to the Dublin punks’ 2015 debut, Holding Hands With Jamie. Pouring out the raw inner workings of his mind and facing his fears head-on, vocalist Dara Kiely’s performance is captivating throughout every track, driving the record through a surplus of twisting guitars and hammering drum beats. Outstanding single release, ‘Shoulderblades’ incorporates traces of post-industrial influence, while the eerie and chaotic blur of the aptly-named ‘Aibohphobia’ embodies a deep sense of terror. With its abstract and often humorous portrayals of emotion, the record’s harrowing atmosphere certainly doesn’t make for easy listening, but there’s something remarkably therapeutic in its underlying empathy. Kelly Ronaldson
ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY – DEPRESSEDIELICA
Run For Cover | October 4th
Mathew Cothran’s eighth album under the banner of Elvis Depressedly is a further descent into a dystopian, experimental pop world. Cothran takes his typical lo-fi singer/songwriter guise and familiar vocals – filled with existential dread and biblical allusions – and expands more into the electronic and auto-tuned.
The airy accents these new elements provide are more nihilistic than euphoric. With tracks like ‘Who Can Be Loved In This World?’, ‘Can You Hear My Guitar Rotting?’ and ‘Let’s Break Up The Band’, you wouldn’t be out of place in thinking that, maybe, Cothran’s not too cheery a person. That said, the record does great genre-straddling between a bedroom recording and a highly-produced indie think-piece. Albert Testani