Review: The Philadelphian Alex Giannascoli has managed to hammer out eight solo albums in less than seven years, and one would be forgiven for assuming he's confused quality with quantity, were it not for the fact that 'Rocket' is unquestionably his most coherent, most memorable and most diverse work yet - replete with the same bleary-eyed charm that has always characterised this amiable slacker's work, yet with sharply constructed songs that bear the stylistic wanders from bucolic folk-pop to Elliott Smith-style angst to Beck-style bewilderment with ease. A piece de resistance from an increasingly fascinating ingenue.
Review: Over the course of their lengthy career, Animal Collective have put out a steady stream of albums that veer between experimental, post-rock soundscapes and skewed, left-of-centre indie-pop. Tangerine Reef, their eleventh and latest set, sees them back in experimental mode, delivering a range of fluid, liquid soundscapes inspired by their work with art-science filmmakers Coral Morphologic. All of the album's music was written to soundtrack a film by the latter duo, which can be watched in full on Animal Collective's website. Aurally, the album is indicative of the slowly shifting visuals - built around time-lapse style footage of coral growing - and tends towards the dreamy, otherworldly and drowsy.
Review: Katie Stelmanis, the spectrally-voiced and ferociously-talented figure behind maverick electro-pop outfit Austra, set herself the not inconsiderable target of setting out 'a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia' with this third album, yet against all odds she's done a sterling job of marrying the icy binary chill of technology with a very human frailty to emerge with a defiant and emotionally affecting statement of intent. Indelible melody and Stelmanis' extraordinary tones may dominate, yet the sonic landscapes here - equally bracing and beatific - have the rare effect of making the listener hopeful for what 2017 has in store.
Review: This Essex four-piece are purveyors of a stylish and succinct brand of guitar-driven indie rock that nods to the like of Royal Blood's heavy riffing and The Dandy Warhols' arch pop tunesmithery, arriving at a black leather jacket racket that makes its presence felt with hooks and swagger, arriving at a continuum that unites Britpop vim and vigour with a more twenty-first century brand of attack. The Bohicas style themselves as 'The kind of S-t that Marv from Sin City would listen to', and indeed the thuggish efficiency of 'The Making Of' is redolent of a band who have their sights set on mainstream glory and aren't ashamed to admit it.
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: Also a member of Real Estate, Ducktails mainman Matt Mondanile explores a more dreamlike and impressionistic mindset with Ducktails; despite their being initially co-opted into the journo-created world of 'hypnagogic pop', Ducktails have always been a band with a distinctly indie mindset, beaming post-C86 guitar chime through a prism of summery abstraction to create a radiant wash of sound as melancholic as it is beguiling. 'St. Catherine' forms by far the most assured and well-crafted statement this winning and winsome talent has created thus far; leaving generic tags behind, this is simply a collection of irresistable songs rendered with soft-focus taste and heavy-lidded charm.
Review: Five years ago, Portishead front woman Beth Gibbons joined forces with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra to perform Henryk Gorecki's "Symphony Number 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs)" at the National Opera Grand Theatre in Warsaw. Here, the recording of the concert is finally given a release. It's a stunning suite of classical pieces, with the orchestra making short work of Gorecki's swelling movements and deeply melancholic musical motifs. Gibbons is in particularly fine form, transforming herself into an operatic artist and accurately delivers the stunning, Polish-language pieces. It's an astonishing performance and nothing like we've ever heard from her before. The 24-minute opening track is, in particular, breathtaking.
Review: We never quite know what to expect from leftfield explorer Jon Hopkins, but we know it will be worth a listen. Immunity, his fourth solo album (he's recorded two others, one with Brian Eno and another with King Creosote), doesn't disappoint. Rooted in shuffling, forthright and occasionally off-kilter rhythms, it melds hazy, late night atmopsherics and subtle melodies with intense, droning chords, woozy electronics and all manner of inventive noises. It's a blend that repeatedly pays dividends, from the mournful pianos and jumpy rhythms of "Breathe This Air', to the crystalline, soundscape ambience of "Abandon Window", and glitchy wonkiness of "Form By Firelight".
Review: Having taken time out to travel the world and experience new things (including psychedelic substances in California), John Hopkins planned to make Singularity, his ninth album, "a sonic ecosystem that starts and ends on the same note". He soon got frustrated by these limitations, so instead just laid down a fluid and hazy album that combines his usual luscious, ambient electronics with a variety of sparse, heavy and off-kilter rhythms. While undeniably laidback in parts, the album also boasts a number of foreboding techno workouts and uses a wider palette of instrumental sounds than we've come to expect (including some fine strings and his own intricate piano playing). The resultant set is rather impressive, all told, and while not quite a "sonic ecosystem", it's certainly an enjoyable journey.
Review: Minneapolis trio and Domino Records project Night Moves delivers their third album, going some length to perfect a brand of poppy psychedelia. Since debuting in 2012 with the Colored Emotions, the band have honed their craft and created a version of what sophisticated, emotional modern pop music can be. And as we enter the summer of 2019, the band's chosen atmosphere oozes with a new sweetness and sound evocative of holidays past that still carry with the sentimentality of cherished memories. Highlights include the breeziness of "Recollections" and the classic disco meets Bee Gees-styled funk of "Waiting For The Symphony".
Review: Panda Bear aka Noah Lennox has been one of the more prolific solo artists to come out of the Animal Collective fold. Buoys presents a second album on UK independent Domino and his sixth solo album overall offers something of a new direction. Made in co-production with Rusty Santos (from The Present) the pair have delivered a work routed in hip hop and beat-making inspirations taking Panda Bear's music into a dubby and bass music realm. At times reminiscent of Ed Banger & Mr. Oizo quirkiness, alongside a trademark guitar sound and vocals drenched in reverb, the dub culture influence mixed in with the folk, and pop abnormalities, prove there's a deep layer of experimentation to Panda Bear's music yet.
Review: Most widely known as the front man for '70s rock and roll outfit The Only Ones, Peter Perrett returns once again with Humanworld, his second album since signing to Domino. Perrett successfully resurfaced in 2017 with How The West Was Won, an album that saw him chart in the UK and star on BBC Newsnight. Humanworld, then, does its best again to dissect romance and politics with Perrett's trademark sense of sardonic wit and wry humour. "I'm fully aware there are a lot of people who never even thought I'd get to make another album, let alone two, in such a short time," Perrett has been quoted saying, and with a production credit going to Peter's son Jamie who contributed to "Master Of Destruction", the album rejoices in one's ability to defy the odds. For fans of Dylan, Velvet Underground and Nick Cave for sure.
Review: Over the past 15 years of releasing records it's been a rare sighting to see Paul Webb's music as Rustin Man not up and alongside his partner in sound, Portishead singer Beth Gibbons. With a rich history of putting out music as the bass player in Talk Talk, Drift Code for Domino presents Webb with a fully loaded debut solo album. There's plenty of blues and jazzed laced throughout the LP to be appreciated alongside country western motifs that make you want to fashion yourself an underbite and chew on a some wheat grass. Slightly gospel, wavering croons and storytelling are to be heard amidst the charming clunky-clink of a salon's piano keys rattled in a room of smokey vocals. Something to be savoured.
Review: Offering up more debuts and dreams is Domino once again with the release of a first album by Los Angeles singer-songwriter SASAMI. The LP, said to be inspired in large by Bruce Vs Chocolate Cake from the 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda, sees SASAMI turn in a variety of solo, synthy and sultry numbers, running a gauntlet between subtle punk, electronic pop, and funky, danceable New York indie. "Morning Comes" is perhaps the best example of the latter, sharing a sweet cadence with Stereolab and Nurse With Wound's classic "Simple Headphone Mind". Killer reference. With the amount of uber cool solo vocalists out there, SASAMI's unpretentious debut adds a fresh minty breath to the mix.
Review: Long time member of Domino Records' Wild Beasts, Hayden Thorpe of the group now ventures out on his own with a debut album called "Diviner". Taking its reference points from minimal piano, 80s synth inspirations, and vocal intonations that sound like they land somewhere between James Blake and Hercules and Love Affair's Anohni, Thorpe's debut delivers a melancholic and poppy tribute to a sound that's full of introspection, expression and delicacy. With the album's approach to modern contemporary and classical rising to the fullest in its penultimate track, "Spherical Time", "Diviner" is both a journey through space as much as it is future pop, multi instrumentation and R&B.
Review: Having made their name as modern-day aesthetes with a series of records that meld the cerebral and the physical with style, 'Boy King' appears to be the point in which the Will Beasts allow their id to run rampant in a way befitting their name. Recorded in Dallas with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent) it shows them heading towards a notably more aggressive, electronic and masculine sound, at once influenced by the binary thump of Nine Inch Nails and the sonic brinksmanship of 'Yeezus' era Kanye West. Odder still, this gamble has more than paid off, and 'Boy King' is the sound of the band at their most vibrant and persuasive.