by / July 10th, 2013 /

June album round-up

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Jagwar MaHowlin (Marathon)

Tame Impala may have cornered the market for druggy antipodean psych-pop, but Jagwar Ma have arrived to hoover up any scraps they have unwittingly left behind. Unlike their countrymen, however, Jagwar Ma sound like they enjoy dancing in the sun rather than getting high in the shade, and there are electronic flecks, DFA funk rhythms and surf-pop harmonies throughout to compensate for their lack of stoner heaviness. The album makes a pleasant upward turn with the closing tracks (‘Did You Have To’, ‘Backing Berlin’), which are altogether quieter, more restrained and more patient, but it is a bit slight and forgettable otherwise. Howlin makes for mildly diverting listening and is sure to play well with anyone in need of a retro, danceable fix of sunny guitar-pop. (George Morahan)

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Desert HeartsEnturbulation = No Challenge (No Dancing)

Bands on the Belfast scene may come and go, but Desert Hearts have been something of a fixture over the past decade. That said, 2013 only sees them reaching their third full album release. What might seem as a tardy approach actually has it’s benefits, with Enturbulation = No Challenge sounding like the work of an act still enthralled with the process of making music. Echoing their name by looking to the expansive American sound for their inspiration, the trio add a healthy dose of Northern Irish grit. It won’t set the world alight but certainly does enough to keep them ticking over for the next while. (Phil Udell)

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These New PuritansField of Reeds (Infectious Music)

After second album Hidden and their grating attempts at melding tribal art-rock with the mellifluous work of Benjamin Britten, These New Puritans have now made an altogether clean break from their original, guitar-driven sound. Field of Reeds doesn’t go out to bash one over the head with hubristic juxtaposition as Hidden did; it oscillates between the warm tones of brass and woodwind with sparing intrusion from pianos and the voice of Jack Barnett.

It’s impressive how TNP have so radically overhauled themselves in only a few years, but this should not obscure the fact that Reeds seems content to just be not-indie at times. The endless, repetitive ‘V (Island Song)’ is an early nadir and is indicative of the album’s general lack of dynamism, and while ‘Organ Eternal’ should make for a refreshing change of tone and pace, it again long outstays its welcome – the title may have been a forewarning. Otherwise, Reeds makes for layered, soothing listening that ebbs, flows and exudes an easy power when it wants to (‘Fragment Two’, ‘The Light in Your Name’, ‘Nothing Else’). A far cry from darkened hipster-punk of ‘Elvis’ and Beat Pyramid, but Field of Reeds is somewhat of a return to form. (GM)

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ZombyWith Love (4AD)

Zomby, the man behind ‘Where Were U in ’92?’, obviously holds a deep appreciation of dance music’s relatively short past, and latest album With Love takes a ‘Losing My Edge’-like journey through the annals. At 33 tracks, there’s a lot of ground to cover here, but most are mercifully brief homages, with only a handful even flirting with four minutes and the majority feeling no need to strain far beyond two. For a work as proudly kleptomaniacal as this, it is surprising how quiet and even contemplative it is; the brasher numbers are few and make for a welcome break from the almost artful effort Zomby puts into uncanny reimaginings of rave, house, trap and Burialesque ambient productions. It would be derivative but for the sheer knowledge and amount of heart that goes into these songs; With Love should be regarded as a success. (GM)

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Nanu NanuUnit One (Flaming June)
Dubbing your own music ‘alien pop’ could be a risky approach, as can the adoption of characters to surpass your real identity, but Nanu Nanu’s debut album is more than strong enough to avoid any accusations of novelty or ham-fisted theatrics. Like vocalist Laura Sheeran’s solo work, Unit 1 is all about pushing boundaries, although this time round her and co-conspirator Marc Aubele are happy to work mainly within the electronic field. Their demeanour and production takes care of the alien part, the strength of the songs the pop bit. Hugely impressive. (PU)

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