Looking back at the month’s new releases that you may have missed…
A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP (RCA)
Despite the overawing hype that accompanied his previous effort, LIVE.LOVE.A$AP, this is actually the official debut album from Harlem’s A$AP Rocky. Leader of the A$AP Mob and chief vessel for the beats of Clams Casino, Rocky has established quite the rep for himself over the past 18 months, but this does little to clarify the buzz that surrounds him. It, of course, has its moments, but Rocky chooses to remain a cipher, leaving an all-star cast to pick up the slack.
Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams (Play It Again Sam)
A nice idea on paper (mix great American storytelling with folk melodies, Appalachian percussion and a touch of electronics) what starts brightly – especially ‘Time To Run’ – soon fades into a string of all too similar tunes. Edward Sharpe without the charisma.
Toro y Moi – Anything in Return (Carpark Records)
Toro y Moi, or Chazwick Bundick as his apparently negligent mother calls him, has been working fairly prolifically on the blogosphere’s fringes for the past couple of years and had a hand in proving that chillwave kinda-sorta existed at a time and place never determined, but Anything in Return is the sound of tentative evolution, beyond the labels attached to his fledgling career. ‘Say That’, with its thumping house release, is surprisingly urgent considering Bundick’s reputation for laid back fuzziness, and there’s definite friction between reputation and progression across the album. With that said, however, the record is still recognisably Toro y Moi: the sound of intense relaxation.
Amelia Curran – Spectators (Six Shooter)
Album number six from the Toronto based singer songwriter and a record that really hits the spot. The tempo could do with being upped on the odd occasion but Curran’s voice is rich and emotive, while the introduction of a number of guest musicians from the city add to the musical pallet. Highly recommended for those of an alt country persuasion.
Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar)
Considering how music journalism started out as a tool for aggrandising 60s rock bands and surrounding them in an impenetrable pre-internet mystique, there’s something strangely gleeful about the way LA two-piece Foxygen undermine rock’s ‘golden age’ with their brand of unrepentant, bratty irreverence. In the 36 minutes it takes to listen to their second album, childhood friends Jonathan Rado and Sam France cover all the bases, starting with France’s pubescent, Jagger-like whine and culminating in many thrilling psychedelic digressions. Although the record bears all the hallmarks of authenticity, it also throws the full spectrum of 60s pop and rock in the blender and hopes for the best. That’s quite punk when you think about it, even if it’s clear Foxygen have barely reached Iggy and the Stooges in their popular music studies.
Various – Reasons To Believe: The Songs Of Tim Hardin (Full Time Hobby)
A songwriter who lived in the shadow of others of his generation, Hardin’s cult status is likely to be left untroubled by this less than impressive tribute. The likes of Mark Lanegan and Diagrams might prove enticing but this is pretty dull and Smoke Fairies just murder his best known tune, ‘If I Were A Carpenter’.
This Town Needs Guns – 22.214.171.124.0 (Sargent House)
For the most part, 126.96.36.199.0 peddles a confessional bent on indie with math-rock-ish tendencies. From opener ‘Cat Fantastic’ to penultimate track ‘+3 Awesomeness Repels Water’, the band weave an intricate tapestry of rhythmic guitars that provides the backdrop for the album, but the foreground is far less interesting. Henry Tremain’s voice is unappealing and sounds like it belongs to some wet emo band from seven years ago; the majority of 188.8.131.52.0 is perfectly inoffensive as a result, but saccharine tracks begin to merge into one another after a while.
Andrea Dawn – Theories Of How We Can Be Friends (Waterloo Sunset)
Chicago artist makes classy debut with piano led ten tracker. Think an equally feminine Rufus and you’re getting there.
The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law (Atlantic)
It’s rare to hear an unabashed, mainstream rock album with massive ambitions these days, but, lo and behold, that is what the Joy Formidable (pictured)have produced on their second LP. Opener ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ is aptly-named as its driving guitars and drums are ever-climbing in search of a hook that will enrapture the festival circuit this summer, while ‘Maw Maw Song’ begins with a crunching riff that the band do their best to replicate with their voices, like kids with air guitars in hand and tremolo arms for voice-boxes. Is ‘Maw Maw Song’ merely mocking the sort of by-numbers epicness that the band themselves propone or is it a throwaway moment of childish aspiration? Either way, it sums Wolf’s Law up rather nicely: a failing leap towards rock’s upper echelons, grounded by flavourless – if still very earnest – attempts at anthemic grandeur.
Ash Gray & The Girls – Born In The Summer (Luv Rock Records)
Pretty weak ’60s influenced pop from the US. The Girls contribute nice enough harmonies but Mr Gray fails to carry the show. Sounds even worse when it’s lashing outside.
Bad Religion – True North (Epitaph)
While many may look down their pierced noses at the US punk scene (all the while clutching their Clash records to their hearts), there’s no doubting that – while the Brits blew themselves out in a flash – our American cousins have kept the flame burning and none more so than Bad Religion, returning with their sixteenth album. If others from their scene have dabbled with different genres and styles, the Californians have continued to play it straight. True North rattles through sixteen tracks in double quick time, all of them staying true to the formula that they perfected in the late ’80s with renewed fire in their middle aged bellies.