NEW MUSIC: Bensnburner – Meanwhile

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Deep rhythms, warm tones and hypnotic glitches collide with hypnotic synth mantras and smears of post-rock guitar on this track from German composer Bensnburner. It comes from his new album (late September release) which was recorded in an empty 400 square metre hangar with a 30 metre high ceiling that created a seven second reverb.

NEW MUSIC: Slark Moan – Honesty

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Almost a Beach Boys sound at the start of this new track from Slark Moan. From there it opens up into cascading piano notes before settling on a rubbery bass groove and classic baroque and power pop shapes. Vocal harmonies soar skyward while Ringo-style drums keep the song in check, while also adding some nice rhythmic colour behind the vocal, inhabited by the wandering ghost of Harry Nilsson. This is classic psych pop/rock of the retro variety but executed with skill and dreamy precision.

The song comes from his sophomore album Superstition for the Consumer Romantic (out August 9th), which took about a year and a half to craft. Sloan also spends much of his time on the road touring as a hired gun for an assortment of alt-country/pop acts such as Kelsey Waldon, Margo Price, Sam Outlaw, Erin Rae and more.

NEW MUSIC: Orion’s Belte – Cherchez La Ghost

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It’s hard to ignore the killer groove and minimal exotic funk of this track from Norwegian trio Orion’s Belte. They released their debut album Mint last year and have already followed it up with the EP Slim in 2019.

‘Cherchez La Ghost’ is their brilliant take on the Ghostface Killah track, mixing a great breakbeat with effect-laden pedal steel and an nervous twitch of a magical low-slung bass-line.

NEW MUSIC: David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights – Smoke You Right Out Of Here

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David Kilgour (The Clean, The Great Unwashed) returns with a brand new single with his long serving band The Heavy Eights. The meditative, acoustic, shuffle and strum of ‘Smoke You Right Out Of Here’ comes from their new album Bobbie’s a girl, his first in five years, which will be out September 20th via Merge Records.

Preorder the album HERE

David Kilgour on tour:
Oct 24 Queenstown, NZ – Sherwood
Oct 25 Dunedin, NZ – The Cook
Oct 26 Christchurch, NZ – Blue Smoke
Oct 31 Wellington, NZ – San Fran
Nov 02 Auckland, NZ – Whammy Bar
Nov 03 Auckland, NZ – Whammy Bar

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Big Thief – U.F.O.F

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Big Thief
U.F.O.F.
4AD

What started with a debut album in 2016, that introduced a fragile and poetic songwriter and her band, has blossomed into a fascinating and quickly evolving career for Adrienne Lenker and the rest of Big Thief. They’ve been touring relentlessly, Lenker even having time to record a well received solo record last year. From Masterpiece to Capacity and now U.F.O.F, the quartet have gently worked away at the canvas of folk and knotty guitar music that draws on both conventional song structures and avant garde curiosity.

This album continues the mystery and beauty of their previous releases while adding even more depth and textural minutiae. There are drone-like textures,  found sounds – like the rolling effect at the start of ‘From’, and fascinating percussive elements that rise and fall in the mix. There’s a feeling of perpetual motion in many of the songs due to the looseness of the arrangements and the playing which makes the music sound both improvised and highly arranged. ‘Jenni’ imagines a Cat Power-fronted Tortoise in the way they use organic instrumentation and allow volume and tone to fluctuate as the song slowly unfurls.

The straightest moment comes right at the start of the album with opener ‘Betsy’ and its sparkling acoustic guitar, gently shuffling drums and Lenker singing in a lower-than-normal register. It’s intimate and affecting and pulls the listener right into the album from the get-go. ‘Contact’ is dreamy and meditative until, as if waking in terror, the guitars gain sharp edges and Lenker emits piercing screams.

If they didn’t already, now Big Thief unequivocally have your attention. Lovers of inventive music would be foolish not to join them on their post-folk journey.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Velvet Starlings – Kids In Droves

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Here’s a great slice of authentic garage psych rock from Los Angeles band Velvet Starlings, fronted by Christian Gisborne. ‘Kids In Droves’ cuts a fine balance between 60s UK mods sounds, a tough Britpop angle and US garage rock circa Nuggets. The single follows their self-titled EP of last year which has seen them generate some major radio attention and a US and UK tour dates.

NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Last Time We Spoke

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New Zealand musician and ambient/electronic composer Rhian Sheehan has built a name for himself with nearly a dozen releases plus a wealth of soundtrack work and appearances on numerous compilations.

Fans of Nils Frahm will appreciate the nuance and blending of organic and synthetic elements in this piece. The way it pushes and pulls with it’s drifting piano melodies and mechanically-inclined rhythmic pulse.

‘Last Time We Spoke’ comes from Sheehan’s most recent album A Quiet Divide. He’s also composed the original score for the just-released Capcom Go!: The Apollo Story, an immersive 3D Planetarium Dome show documentary that showcases the historical achievements of the Apollo program and what it took to put the first human on the Moon.

ALBUM REVIEW: Lambchop – This (is what I wanted to tell you)

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Lambchop
This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)
Merge Records

The band Lambchop is a very different beast these days, compared to a decade ago when they numbered up to 12 members with more of a conventional country soul sound. Now Lambchop is essentially Kurt Wagner with a small coterie of collaborators – a much more intimate proposition yet still possessing the gorgeous and hypnotic Lambchop qualities that have always been at the heart of their deeply soulful, emotive and intellectual music.

With compadres Matt Swanson (bass), Tony Crow (bass) and Matthew McCaughan (of Bon Iver and Hiss Golden Messenger) who co-wrote and produced the album, the band further refine the sound that first took shape on Mr. M (2016) and then blossomed into new eclectic pastures on the synth and auto-tune affected FLOTUS in 2016. Those new explorations are still embedded in the music on this record but there’s a leanness and a barer framework to these songs. You can hear the trademark melancholy via Wagner’s voice and the generally downbeat tone of the music but the songs are filtered through jazz, hip hop, future soul and the kind of avant-pop sounds that people like Scritti Politti, David Sylvian and Mark Hollis of Talk Talk developed.

Wagner’s way with words still shines through these lush textures, his devastating way of making seemingly simple phrases carry additional weight. It’s in his somnambulant delivery, the heavy use of effects on his voice but most importantly it’s the words themselves that carry the greatest weight and air of curiosity. “I’m in a Mexican restaurant bar, watching surfing and it’s amazing” he sings on ‘The Air Is Heavy And I Should Be listening To You’ and on ‘The You Isn’t So New Anymore’ he simply states “Michael Jackson just informed me that Santa Claus is coming to town”.

Wagner is firmly in his post-country phase, maybe he’s really always been there. Regardless, he’s a relentlessly inventive songwriter who is as devoted to sound, texture and atmosphere as he is to the lyrical possibilities of his poetry.

Chris Familton