Review: If there were still justice in the digital age, and artists really got what was owed to them exposure-wise, Alex Cameron would be a safe bet for leftfield pop sensation. A multi-faceted songwriter, his previous two albums took us through a horror show of horrible characters and their innermost thoughts, twin roads that have somehow veered onto another course altogether for "Miami Memory". Here a much friendlier face is donned. Nevertheless, opener "Stepdad" makes intentions clear, with uptempo keyboard lines invoking the emotional qualities of mid-80s Prince. "Far From Born Again" tells the story of a "her" who's making bad choices, and the potential fallout of that, set to a Bruce Springsteen-sounding chorus, the likes of which can be found again on "Divorce". Not holding back, but instead holding a light up to a different side of his personality, it's Cameron's most positive to date and his best.
Review: It seems everyone has their own story when it comes to Cat Power; from first albums purchased, to seeing her perform live on stage with a broken ankle, all the while never ceasing to maintain her blissful air of elegance and withdrawn charisma. Chan Marshall's latest album, six years from her last, provides her debut on Domino, bringing with it three defining aspects, most notably a collaboration with Lana Del Rey on title track "Woman". A Rihanna cover version of "Stay" also makes an appearance mid-way through while tinges of auto-tune inside "Horizon" only add to her continuous extension of folky, blues & roots Americana.
Review: You could be forgiven for questioning the Californian roots of Ceremony. Then again, it's a big old state. Big enough, apparently, to hide one of the most vital movements in British music in its midst. Evidently no coincidence that the band's name nods to a seminal slice of Joy Division, while post punk never disappeared this 14-strong collection is enough to trick anyone into thinking they'd woken up in the genre's explosive heyday. "Turn Away The Bad Thing" sets the record straight as album opener. Intense, punchy, visceral and- crucially- incredibly catchy, Ross Farrar's lyrics arrive with rock 'n' roll's unapologetic edge. It's a case of one track and you're in. It's also perhaps the rawest offering here, synths and electronics gradually demanding more attention as the LP progresses. "From Another Age", for example, places bouncing keys centre stage as pseudo-guitar riffs. Basically buy it, buy it now.
Review: Sporting something of an appearance that looks like it could have come out of Harmony Korine's Gummo, Cherry Glazerr reappear once again on their homely label Secretly Canadian. There's a mass of pop culture appeal to band, and considering they surfaced early on [Adult Swim] it's no surprise maybe to see everything from mid-western emo to punk motifs alongside more cosmo R&B beats. It's an album that wears its hair up or down, experiencing softer and more introverted moments to thrash guitars and punk stances. With angst and distortion never far from earshot, the album's flex is acoustic and electronic with the imaginations of talented kids dosed up on MTV Americana coming to the fore.
Review: Remember R.E.M - or at least that sound? Add some major tonality, southern charm and smiles to the mix and you're met with The Chills, a five-piece out of New Zealand. This Snow Bound album provides them with their eighth full length and follows the Silver Bullets LP from 2015, delivering a fresh round folky modernity with a dash of woebegone. The band's formation dates back to 1987 and on this record it's "Complex" that delivers a bonafide standout, with ballads like "Deep Belief" worth saddling up alongside album closer "In Harmony", a sweet tune to ride out on that leaves an everlasting note. Everybody hurts.
Review: The last ten years have seen no shortage of bands with their delay pedals set to stun intent on capturing an aura of dreamlike radiance. Yet Texas 'pop-noir' troupe Cigarettes After Sex are no ordinary shoegazers, for a variety of reasons - frontman Greg Gonzalez' androgynous and dulcet tones may be part of the appeal, yet moreover it's the quality of the songwriting here, which never falls prey to the style-over-substance traps of their peers. Indeed, this debut is more than enough to justify the considerable hype around this outfit, being a collection of ditties as sultry as they are atmopsheric.
Review: Three years ago, teenager Claire Cottrill became a viral sensation via her song "Pretty Girl", a bedroom produced slice of lo-fi pop perfection that earned her a legion of online fans. Now 20, Cottrill has delivered a debut album that's as intimate and confessional as her earlier work, but a little more polished production wise. As critics have pointed out, "Immunity" offers the best of both worlds and is packed with arresting, interesting songs. Check, for example, the drowsy, other-worldly dream pop of "Alewife", the R&B-influenced indie-pop shuffle of "Closer To You", the rock-fired growl of "North", the glistening, pedal steel-sporting goodness of "Safely" and the glitchy late night sweetness of "Sinking".
Review: Yeah yeah, Cleveland rocks, and of late it's Ohio's Cloud Nothings that, alongside Bone Thugs & Harmony and Nine Inch Nails, are keeping the city on the map as somewhere that still has something in the water. This latest album sees the group elevated to a release on Wichita - think Bloc Party, The Crips and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah among others - and it's the 11-minute "Dissolution", the freeform centerpiece of this album that really impresses. It's a short cry from the experimental rock of At The Drive In/Mars Volta while more emotional numbers like "The Echo Of The World" and "Another Way Of Life" bring to mind bands like Alexisonfire, Thrice and Sparta. If you like your punk with touch of Pennywise and Rancid too, Cloud Nothings set the tone.
Review: This fourth album by the Cleveland indie-rock troupe shows them honing both their songwriting and the incisive elegance of their sound with style, with mainman Dylan Baldi's introspective vocals married with indelibly poppy melody, surprisingly balls-out attack and impressionistic arrangements. Sounding, now as ever, like Death Cab For Cutie having had an injection of steroids, or New Order if they'd grown up on emo-hardcore records, this understated outfit have delivered their most arresting and addictive effort to date.
Review: If you missed The Comet is Coming's brilliant debut album, Channel The Spirits, first time around, help is at hand. Happily, the Leaf label has decided to reissue the Mercury Music Prize nominated album, expanding it to two discs via the addition of 2015's similarly sublime Prophecy EP and a trio of previously unheard wig-outs. The genius of the London combo's music lies in their unique and eccentric approach to musical fusion. While their roots lie in fusing spiritual jazz and freaky psychedelic rock, keen listeners will hear a myriad of other influences and inspirations seeping into their distinctive instrumental compositions, from spiraling electronica, Afrobeat and skewed funk, to ambient, dub, drum and bass, Roots Manuva and low-slung industrial funk.
Review: Eric Copeland's first album for DFA, 2013's Joke In The Hole, was something of a breakthrough for the eccentric artist. Since then, he's released two albums for L.I.E.S, both of which were notably obtuse in comparison. Black Bubblegum, his second full-length DFA outing, is an altogether cheerier proposition, with Copeland combining his usual abstract, experimental beat-making approach with skewed guitars, quirky instrumentation, wild pop sensibilities and more than a touch of wayward '60s psychedelia. As you'd expect, this kind of zany, lo-fi fusion makes for enjoyable and hugely entertaining listening, with the New York producer seemingly throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the project.
Review: These Liverpudlian beat mavens have always - like many great bands - been a mass of contradictions. Perpetually youthful yet with a sound forever entrenched in the heady haze of the late '60s, they've now set themselves up as something of an institution for a mindset based on worn copies of 'Forever Changes' and 'Five Leaves Left, Yet 'Distance Inbetween' - their first for five years - is proof positive that their charm, for all its familiarity, is unlikely to wear off soon. A bold and colourful display of world-class songwriting and heavy-lidded cool from perennial psychedelic peacocks.