Microphones released their first new album in 17 years, 'Microphones in 2020', today, comprised of one, 44-minute song, that comes with a beautiful one-shot still video. It is a slide-show of 800 printed photos of band's leader Phil Elverum's childhood and touring years, accompanied by the lyrics to the songs (watch/listen to it here). Critics like the album a lot: Stereogum branded it their Album of the Week because "he weaves together vast metaphysical explorations and minute personal memories"; Pitchfork branded it Best new music (grade 8.5) for exploration of "artmaking, self-mythologizing, and what it means to bear witness to one’s own existence and transformations"; Exclaim goes philosophical and poetical on us: "This is Elverum's indelible stamp of style, distilled into a single track that flows like waves in the ocean or hills on the mountainside".

"The seven tracks that comprise 'Alphaville' are at once harrowing and transcendent, terrifying and cathartic, filled with jazzlike grooves" - PopMatters says about Imperial Triumphant's new album. What makes the New York trio stand out is their avant-garde approach to metal, with jazz and psychedelic elements added to their black metal. Separate songs differ a lot among themselves and each song incorporates plenty of elements because, as vocalist and guitarist Zachary Ilya Ezrin tells PM- "we have a strong idea of what the song's about, why it needs to exist, what it stands for".

"Billy Woods... has a voice that commands, a booming orator akin to no one but himself. Then there’s Elucid, prone to bars of labyrinthine complexity, a rapper who’ll declare 'fuckboys deserve to be liberated too' as evidence that revolutionary rage and killer one-liners can coexist with ease" - The Quietus writes about the New York hip-hop duo Armand Hammer, declaring them "recognisers of looping cycles".

"Its two-hour runtime pales as news in comparison to just how much savage intensity Paysage d'Hiver maintains over that span, and how brief the project thereby makes this lengthy duration" - Invisible Oranges argues in favor of their latest editor's choice of the best new albums. "This is black metal that can simultaneously accelerate and decelerate time: it's over in an instant, but somehow it feels like a centenarian's lifetime".

"The most evocative about 'Beyond The Pale': the ways in which Cocker’s lyrics, sharp as ever, reflect his own aging and experiences within these recurring Big Picture references to human progress, human destruction, and the stupid little things we fill our time with otherwise" - Stereogum writes about their newest Album of the week, debut by Jarvis Cocker's new project JARV IS. Cocker is still as clever and witty - "He has a way of making you laugh at the absurdity and inevitability of everything and you’re struck by each observation he offers".

"Consistently exciting, always surprising, and full of soul, it is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable releases of the year to date" - PopMatters is full of praise for the big collaborative project Keleketla! featuring Coldcut, Tony Allen, Shabaka Hutchings, Miles James, Soundz of the South, Freedom Groove, and many other British and African musicians. Guardian chose it for their Global album of the month - "Here, the component parts of hip-hop, jazz, dub and protest music are pieced together, like the many languages of a diasporic conversation". AllMusic said it is "a powerful combination of activism and musical exploration" to "express messages of joy, optimism, and revolution". Financial Times heard it as a "lively, cosmopolitan tale of musical resistance to a world of borders and repression".

British singer/songwriter A.A. Williams ha released her debut 'Forever Blue', with guest vocals from Cult of Luna members Johannes Persson and Fredrik Kihlberg and Wild Beasts' Tom Fleming. Critics from all sides like it: "It’s a debut of richness, depth and genuinely shattering emotional engagement – pure melancholic majesty" - Beats per Minute; "Ambitious blend of post-rock, folk, goth, metal, and classical ingredients" - All Music; "A classically trained cellist, pianist and multi-instrumentalist, Williams’ blending of post-rock and post-classical elements has a hypnotising quality, that slowly lulls its listeners into an exquisite fervour" - The Line on Best Fit; "A stunning, haunting work" - American Songwriter.

"The sound of art-punk, industrial, ambient, techno, and glam imploding on themselves. It’s vicious and physical" - Pitchfork defines new album 'The Passion Of' by the New Orleans quartet Special Interest. That's the sound. The lyrics are "consistently ablaze, whether writing about sex and longing at end times or gentrification and the militarization of cities". In general - "punk offers a moment of ignition. But for Special Interest, there is also a horizon".

The man with the first cyclist waltz
June 30, 2020

Gabriel Ólafs composes "a beautiful record" with 'Piano Works'

"Gabriel Ólafs understands how to craft short yet expressive piano pieces that recall the intimate sensibility of 19th-century salons as much as modern Icelandic indie groups" - PopMatters says in a review of the new album by the young Icelandic pianist. PM argues Ólafs "focuses on mood and emotive gestures to develop pieces, both concise yet brimming with beauty", adding he "shares more in common with the art-rock artists of his homeland (Sigur Rós, Sóley) than prominent contemporary classical pianists".

Debut album by the Canadian quintet is "one of those rare albums that does a convincing job of capturing the livewire energy of a band onstage. Clipped guitar rhythms meet warped vocal freakouts and gang-chant shoutalongs; the shapes of the songs tighten and tighten, worming their way into your body. It’s deeply physical music, but one from a strain of art-rock weirdos", Stereogum argues. It's "funk and punk and disco crashed together", by the band "committed to relentless grooves".

"This time I feel like the songs are wildly better because it’s me as an adult. I’m getting less afraid" - Phoebe Bridgers said in CoS interview about her new album, 'Punisher'. For her second record she made more energetic material - "I think it’s just more fun to play live. That might be something I learned from my collaborations: the more fun a song is to play live, the more I like it over time, whereas I get kind of exhausted playing sad songs over and over and over". Bridgers released the album earlier because - “I’m not pushing the record until things go back to ‘normal’ because I don’t think they should”, as she wrote on Twitter.

Critics really like former Savages' debut: "A sonic poltergeist with sentiment to boot" - Clash Magazine; "Beth’s ability to glide between vulnerability and intimidation is unnerving, and adds more shades of grey to a performer who’s previously operated in black and white" - Guardian; "Lyrically and musically, it vacillates between the corporeal and the ethereal, prudence and excess, softness and severity" - Pitchfork; "The music transforms from sweet and cinematic to harsh and claustrophobic, and Beth’s voice similarly vacillates between acidic and corrosive or lush and full of yearning" - Rolling Stone.

New EP by the non-binary Sudanese-American singer Dua Saleh was inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as the Godmother of rock and roll, and it is "full of diverse soundscapes with hypnotizing synths and guitars for emotionally resonant trips through Dua’s candid memories", Hypebeast says. Brooklyn Vegan hears "the influence of loud, distorted rock on this powerful EP, but you can also hear modern R&B, auto-tuned trap, atmospheric art pop, and more. It breaks down boundaries left and right". Listen to the EP in full at Bandcamp.

"An artist who’s quite literally said nothing new for the last eight years, he suddenly turned very loquacious indeed, unleashing a series of dense, allusive tracks packed with thorny references to art, literature and pop culture" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis wrote in a review of folk great's new album. "'Rough and Rowdy Ways' might well be Bob Dylan’s most consistently brilliant set of songs in years: the die-hards can spend months unravelling the knottier lyrics, but you don’t need a PhD in Dylanology to appreciate its singular quality and power". NME's Mark Beaumont is equally impressed: "Arguably his grandest poetic statement yet, a sweeping panorama of culture, history and philosophy peering back through assassinations, world wars, the births of nations, crusades and Biblical myths in order to plot his place in the great eternal scheme". In a rare recent interview in the New York Times Dylan said his songs "seem to know themselves and they know that I can sing them, vocally and rhythmically. They kind of write themselves and count on me to sing them".

GoGo Penguin / Colin Stetson

GoGo Penguin "grew up in the era of techno and drum and bass, and have cannily adapted the rush of electronic music to a traditional acoustic lineup of piano, double bass and drums" The Observer writes in a review of electro-jazz trio's intense yet relaxing and gentle new album.

Colin Stetson has been making movie scores for a few years now, his latest, 'Barkskins' stands out as the richest and the most haunting. National Geographic's drama series investigates the subject of the deforestation of the New World from the arrival of English and French colonists.

"Love needs fury to fight hate. Clearly none of this is lost on the pair of indie, old head, no-fucks-giving, chain-snatching, self-professed menaces to sobriety behind this project. Their boisterous new album, 'RTJ4', makes time for trash-talking and chin-checking amid insurrection" - Pitchfork highly suggests Run the Jewels' new album (tagged it Best new music, grade 8.3). The P argues 'RTJ40 is closest to who Killer Mike and El-P are - "weary but unbroken, wary but not hopeless, eager to knuckle up".

Folk singer Ondara wrote and produced ‘Folk N’ Roll Vol 1: Tales of Isolation’ himself while in lockdown in Minneapolis in just one week, which is reflected heavily on this album with lyrics like "I'm not an essential worker" and "Hey Mr. landlord... I haven't paid my rent". Brooklyn Vegan compares the album to Bob Dylan, but adds "it feels just about as fleshed-out as its predecessor and Ondara's soaring voice and storytelling ability is still just as compelling".

"These songs are about taking action - using experience as a teacher and a guide" which makes for Medhane's "most present and clear-eyed project", as Pitchfork says in review (tagged it Best new music, grade 8,4). His raps got better - "there is even more force and focus behind his bars", as well as production - "the beats are gorgeously gritty, warped yet whole; he remolds jazz and soul samples as if from particles of sand, which brings the clarity of the raps into sharper relief".

Renowned 82-year-old jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp, producer/DJ Damu the Fudgemunk, and MC Raw Poetic (Shepp's nephew) officially collaborated for the first time last year during one marathon session. The result is 'Ocean Bridges', a "fully improvised album on which Moore, Shepp and Damu the Fudgemunk tap into both of those genres’ more experimental sides and ultimately find a sound that isn’t fully aligned with either one" - Washington Post writes about the interesting collaboration. PopMatters says the album is "proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term 'crossover' doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon".

"Such mellow American folk-rock plays uneasily in these staggeringly anxious times. Yet the set’s charms - slinking choruses, hushed lead vocals -suit this disarmingly unassuming band" - New Yorker wrote about the New York band's new album, a meditation on dreams. PopMatters says that "Woods had established an instantly recognizable aesthetic without ever sounding trapped by it", adding that the album "despite the impending doom, sounds euphoric". Brooklyn Vegan calls it a "terrific album... full of sunny music, beaming with hope". Treblezine likes the atmosphere of it - "a warm, healing album of feelgood rock".

Perfume Genius' new album is "three-dimensional, dust-blown world that is cinematic in its grandeur and intimate in its inspection of the human form", Pitchfork states in its review (grade 9.0). The P is impressed by the style of the album - "the songs expand and contract, one minute blasting open with the melodrama of a Roy Orbison ballad, the next zooming in with surgical detail as Hadreas describes ribs that fold like fabric, a tear-streaked face, an instance of post-coital petty theft".

"'Beneath' pulls from chaotic screamo, shimmering post-rock, some more melodic post-hardcore/emo type stuff, and some absolutely vicious metallic stuff too" - Brooklyn Vegan says in praise of Infant Island's new album. They're innovating, and they've also "upped their musicianship game (the drumming on this album is the not-so-secret-weapon) and the production blows away that of their debut".

What has he done to help good music?
May 15, 2020

Jason Isbell's 'Reunions' - "an excellent album"

"With 'Reunions', Isbell unites the disparate aspects of his craft — soothing acoustic and fiercely electric; Hemingway's word economy dashed with Oscar Wilde-worthy asides, relatable details and otherworldly allusions" - Exclaim says in a review of alt-country singer-songwriter's new album. Glide Magazine says Isbell's reputation as “one of the best” and “the best singer-songwriter of his generation” today is well-earned. Paste Mag praises his inner strength - "he knows a little something about putting up a fight, even if it’s against his own worst impulses. His best impulses he keeps channeling into his music". PopMatters puts it simple: "an excellent album... It's already a candidate for one of 2020's best".

"His songs don’t settle into familiar shapes or patterns. He sings in a scratchy falsetto that seems to fray at the edges" - Stereogum argues in favor of Moses Sumney's 'Grae' (part two is out this week, part one came out in February). Sumney recruited dozens of collaborators for the album - Adult Jazz, Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, James Blake, Jill Scott, Yvette, bass virtuoso Thundercat, Son Lux drummer Ian Chang, Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin - in "a time-honored method for creative visionaries seeking to tease out different sides of themselves". Treblezine says it's "the perfect culmination of its transcendent first half", and Guardian rounds it up - "places the Ghanaian-American’s vast emotional range and unfurling musicality front and centre".

"There is a cathartic religiosity to the music of Sex Swing. During this era of sorrow and anxiety, Sex Swing remind us of the restorative powers of rock" - the Quietus says in a review of new album by the psych-rock band. "The guitars erupt, the rhythms sputter out, the volume is maximised... It’s an uplifting record that taps into the mysticism at the core of much experimental musics" - the Q adds. The band - a supergroup of sorts, with members living in different parts of the world - explains in an interview how they function.

'Mutable Set' by the Californian guitarist and singer Blake Mills is "a hushed, finely tuned album" that "splits the difference between Mills’ two sides—the unassuming singer and the ambient wanderer", Pitchfork says in their review (tagged it "Best new music", grade 8.3). The P says it's not "just another singer-songwriter record. Its arrangements are slippery, and it’s often hard to tell if what you’re hearing is a keyboard, a guitar, a saxophone, or something else entirely. It’s never clear exactly where this album will go next, but there’s no doubt an expert hand is guiding the way".

"I Break Horses have always made music that lights up the mysteries inside us with giant, emotive soundscapes, music that you could sink deep into or use as transport to some imagined far away place" - Stereogum argues in favor of I Break Horses' new album. 'Warnings', S-Gum writes, "provides a perfect sound for those in-between spaces, nebulous and vibrant but not escapist. While mostly unfailingly beautiful, it has a hint of distortion haunting the edges... 'Warnings' might be more appropriate now than ever, not reacting to the noise of the world but giving us a place to sit and sift through what we’ve known".

Experimental composer Drew Daniel gathered his friends and family, including his Matmos bandmate M.C. Schmidt, Horse Lords saxophonist Andrew Bernstein, percussionist Sarah Hennies, "and a world-class trio of vocalists: Angel Deradoorian, Colin Self, and Lower Dens singer Jana Hunter" to create "a cathartic, emotional windfall" with his project The Soft Pink Truth. The resulting album 'Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?', Pitchfork says, "carries itself with the strength of a soft prayer, masterfully fusing jazz, deep house, and minimalism into an enormous, featherlight shield".

1 2 3 10