Recently, I was trying to name my favourite album of every year in the ’10s, and for 2010, I went with Sigur Rós frontman Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson’s solo debut Go. That may have been a result of how little new music I was listening to at the time, but it was a very good album. I saw him live just after its release too, and it was one of the most stunning live performances I’ve ever seen, even topping my experience of Sigur Rós.
Category Archives: Album Reviews 2020
Album #264: AUA – I Don’t Want it Darker
Without meaning to, I seem to be going through a spell of pretty experimental European stuff at the moment. German band AUA are the latest noise from the continent I’ve been made aware of, with debut album I Don’t Want It Darker released a month ago.
Album #263: Neptunian Maximalism – Éons
Though Neptunian Maximalism is made up of what’s described as a “collective” of experienced musicians, this album is technically a debut, and perhaps one of the most extravagant and ambitious entrances to the world of music I’ve ever heard.
Album #262: Cabbage – Amanita Panthera
Manchester area band Cabbage have had one or two iffy stories follow them around over the years that I’m not quite sure what to make of, most notably this one. The band fiercely deny it and the furore over it seems to have died down, so let’s try and focus on the music.
Album #261: Tapeworms – Funtastic
I think another Friday will pass before I get through everything from last Friday I wanted to cover. This debut from French electro-pop/rock trio Tapeworms wasn’t even on my list originally, but it’s become my main listen over the last 24 hours.
Album #260: Anna von Hausswolff – All Thoughts Fly
Something a little different now, with the new album from Swedish neoclassical darkwave composer Anna n Hausswolff.
Album #259: Surfer Blood – Carefree Theater
Everyone in the indie community’s heart went out to Surfer Blood in 2015 when guitarist Thomas Fekete died at the age of just 27. A devastating thing for any band to deal with, it also suddenly meant that the band was forced to rejig their line-up and channel darkness and grief into a sound that had generally been breezy and light-hearted.
Album #258: Bob Mould – Blue Hearts
I’ve never really managed to love Hüsker Dü, save for a few songs, but I’m a big fan of Bob Mould’s solo work. It just seems a bit more catchy and easy to get into, as shallow as that might sound.
Album #257: Deftones – Ohms
Deftones are one of those bands who have honed their own sound so much over the years, you know that as long as you like Deftones, you’re going to like a new Deftones album. Sure, some of them are better than others, and by no means do they all sound the same, but they always sound like Deftones. They’re like alternative metal’s answer to the Fall in that respect.
Album #256: Idles – Ultra Mono
Right, stop what you’re doing – the new Idles album is out!
Album #255: Cows – Cunning Stunts
I was a bit short of inspiration for what to listen to today, so I had a look at what Apple Music was recommending for me based on my recent plays. Top of the list was this 1992 album from Cows, who I’ve heard a bit of before.
Album #254: Sweeping Promises – Hunger for a Way Out
I saw this album recommended on a Facebook fan page for Girls in Synthesis, whose debut album Now Here’s an Echo from Your Future I’m liking more and more with each listen.
Album #253: The Flaming Lips – American Head
I’ve never given a lot of attention to The Flaming Lips. Most of what I’ve heard from them until now has been OK without getting my pulse racing, but I’m giving their new 16th album a proper listen.
Album #252: Girl Friday – Androgynous Mary
Recently I stumbled upon the North American College & Community Chart, which seems pretty up my street. One of the few albums on that list I haven’t listened to is this week’s #4, Androgenous Mary by Girl Friday, so here we go.
Album #251: The Asteroid No. 4 – Northern Songs
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of The Asteroid No. 4 before, even though according to Discogs, they’ve just released their 11th album.
Album #250: Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
Critics often turn their noses up at death metal, but it’s about the only form of metal I have any time for. It still isn’t really for me, but I’d always choose a couple of minutes of thrashing, thundering and bellowing over, say, Guns ‘N Roses fingering away for 15 minutes while Axl Rose disappears up his own arse.
Album #249: Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
I listened to Fetch the Bolt Cutters on the day it was released in April. I could tell it was a bit special, which has actually made it a daunting album to review.
Album #248: Marker – Marker
A contender for Now That’s What I Call Difficult to Google!, this three-year-old self-titled album by New Orleans project Marker appeared on my Facebook earlier this week.
Album #247: Osees – Protean Threat
People who insist on their records being filed in alphabetical order must hate this band. The experimental rockers formerly known by names like OCS, Oh Sees, and Thee Oh Sees released their latest album today, under yet another new moniker.
Album #246: Pale Saints – The Comforts of Madness
Purely through coincidence, I’m reviewing my second consecutive 1990 album on released on the 4AD label. Pale Saints’ debut The Comforts of Madness popped up as a recommendation for me on Apple Music. I like the songs I’ve heard from them in the past, like ‘Sight of You’ (taken from this album) and ‘Half Life, Remembered’ (from an EP released later in 1990), so why not?
Album #245: The Breeders – Pod
Possibly the most surprising/embarrassing album I’m admitting to never having listened to before.
Album #244: Doves – The Universal Want
Doves are one of those bands that I just “quite like”. If they were playing at a festival I was at I might watch them. If they were on Later… With Jools Holland I might switch it on. And if they brought out their first album in 11 years I might listen to it.
Album #243: The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa – Susurrate
Czech shoegaze is a thing, apparently, and perhaps the biggest name from it is/was The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa.
Album #242: Uniform – Shame
I think yesterday I heard the first non-ironic mention of Christmas. Given its been a turd of a year, the end of 2020 will probably be warmly welcomed, except that it does mean I’m running short of time on this blog, where I remain over 10 albums behind schedule.
Album #241: Dream Nails – Dream Nails
I’m a bit slow of the mark on this debut from much hyped riot grrrl band Dream Nails. Released two weeks ago, it’s a fiery 25 minutes of feminism, gay rights and DIY ethos.
Album #240: The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard music like this before. The Mekons’ 1985 album Fear and Whiskey appeared on a list of great post-punk albums I saw, and I can understand why, but harmonicas and fiddles?
Album #239: Seatemples – Trópicos
The website Post-punk.com is a great resource for discovering off-the-radar bands from the genre, often from underrepresented parts of the world. I’ve just discovered the Chilean band Seatemples on there and checked out their new second album Trópicos.
Album #238: Few Bits – Few Bits
A random memory that seems to have come from nowhere has prompted today’s listen. In 2016, I listened to the album Big Sparks by Belgian indie/folk band Few Bits. It didn’t seem to make much of an impression on the world of music, but I thought it was a really good album.
Album #237: Dehd – Flower of Devotion
A common criticism of music journalists is that they’re obsessed with genres, then subgenres, then micro-genres, and they can’t describe an artist without comparing them to another artist.
Album #236: Sprain – As Lost Through Collision
I like to give them a chance, these post-rock/metal albums consisting of five or six elongated tracks. It’s rare that I hate them, but pretty rare that I love them too.
Album #235: Throwing Muses – Sun Racket
Throwing Muses are one of those bands I know I like even though I haven’t heard that much of them. Their tenth studio album, and their first since 2013’s Purgatory / Paradise, came out on Friday.
Album #234: Lawn – Johnny
I wasn’t too sure where to start with yesterday’s releases. In the end, the one I returned to most yesterday was this new album by jangly post-punk band Lawn.
Album #233: Redd Kross – Born Innocent
With the arrival of September, it’s dawned on me that we’ve only got a third of year left and, being about 15 albums behind schedule, I’m once again listening to quickfire punk that doesn’t take too long to listen to, absorb and review.
Album #232: Cocteau Twins – Garlands
Interpol, Black Flag, Jawbreaker – there are some bands where I’ve become so obsessed with one album, I’ve barely bothered to listen to any others by them. It’s almost like I don’t want to dilute the esteem I hold Turn on the Bright Lights, Damaged and 24 Hour Revenge Therapy in by listening to much of these bands’ back catalogues.
Album #231: Echo & the Bunnymen – Crocodiles
The latest on the list of “bands I’ve shockingly never heard an album by”, I’ve spent a wet Wednesday at the onset of autumn with the appropriate soundtrack of Echo & the Bunnymen’s now 40-year-old debut.
Album #230: Narrow Head – 12th House Rock
Bank holiday always send my plans to pot, but Friday saw the release of the second album from alternative metal group Narrow Heads. I’m getting round to giving it a proper listen today.
Allbum #229: Widowspeak – Plum
Another new release from Friday, and a band I’ve never listened to before. Plum is the fifth album by the New York indie rock/dream-pop four-piece Widowspeak, and is a style of music that I’m not whether to chill out to, or be chilled by.
Album #227: Happy Mondays – Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)
I always think of Happy Mondays as a ’90s band, but they were in fact formed as early as 1980, and by 1990 were on their third album.
Album #226: J. Zunz – Hibiscus
There are some albums you can listen to fairly passively and get an idea of whether you like then or not. Hibiscus, the second solo album from Lorelle Meets the Obsolete’s Lorena Quintanilla (aka J. Zunz), is not one of them.
Album #225: Sakuran Zensen – おれは錯乱前戦だ!!おれは錯乱前戦だ!!
There’s a rumour doing the rounds that the support band for the next time IDLES’ tour Japan will be a five-piece from Tokyo called Sakuran Zensen. Probably total nonsense, but enough to encourage me to listen to their debut album released back in March.
Album #224: Bully – SUGAREGG
Last Friday was a pretty good one for new music, but I didn’t get a chance to listen to much over the weekend, so I’m getting my first fill of Bully’s third album today.
Album #223 – I Like Trains – KOMPROMAT
Ah, I remember I Like Trains. One of many mid-’00s bands that seemed to be championed by the likes of NME and forgotten the next, they could be bracketed in with British Sea Power, and later Public Service Broadcasting, in a niche of quintessentially British bands who seemed as keen to educate as to entertain.
Album #222: No Joy – Motherhood
Released: 2020 Origin: Montreal, Canada Label: Joyful Noise Best Track: Fish
Album #221: Luxuria – Unanswerable Lust
Possibly my most serendipitous discovery yet, and if I explain how it came about, it will only show how tragically sad some of the ways I entertain myself are!
Album #220: Zoon – Bleached Wavves
Given that I follow the shoegaze scene quite keenly, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this June-released debut album by Daniel Monkman, aka Zoon, until last week.
Album #219: The Pop Group – Y
In another exploration of early post-punk, I’m checking out the debut album from Bristol’s Pop Group today.
Album #217: Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings
Since what’s widely seen as their breakthrough album, 2007’s Puzzle, I’ve found Biffy Clyro difficult to understand, and harder still to enjoy.
Album #216: King Buzzo & Trevor Dunn – Gift of Sacrifice
I’ve never heard any of Buzz Osborne/King Buzzo’s solo work, or even much of his band The Melvin if I’m honest, but his new acoustic album with Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn came out on Friday, so let’s give it a whirl.
Album #214: The Stooges – Fun House
I’m continuing to look at punk from before punk existed, and this is an album I should already have heard. I’ve got The Stooges’ third album Raw Power on CD somewhere, probably just because I found it at a car boot sale or something, but second album Fun House has until now eluded my ears.
Album #213: Amon Düül – Psychedelic Underground
I’m currently reading Yeah Yeah Yeah by Bob Stanley, which is an ambitious and extremely well researched attempt to chronicle the history of pop and rock music. On reading about how MC5’s ‘Kick Out the Jams’ was arguably the first punk song and the first example of direct, heavy music, I sought out some similar examples from the late 1960s
Album #212: The Real Thing – 4 From 8
I am absolutely no authority on soul, and am out of my comfort zone here, but that’s part of the challenge of this project, isn’t it?
Album #211: Orchards – Lovecore
I listened to this debut from Brighton alt-pop band Orchards upon its release in March, but didn’t get round to a write-up on it. I wasn’t sure about it, if I’m honest.
Album #210: Ikara Colt – Modern Apprentice
Ikara Colt came to my mind yesterday when I was asked to name great bands beginning with ‘I’. I liked their 2002 debut Chat and Business, but I wasn’t sure what had happened to them or if they had even done anything else.
Album #209: Steve Von Till – No Wilderness Deep Enough
I’ve never listened to Steve Von Till before, but what I’ve read about him makes me think I should. The Neurosis guitarist’s work has been described as everything from sludge metal to contemporary folk, and today sees the release of his fifth solo album.
Album #208: Billy Nomates – Billy Nomates
Released: 2020 Origin: Bournemouth, England Label: Invada Best Track: Hippy Elite
Album #207: Silverbacks – Fad
Ireland seems to be oozing quality music at the moment. Here’s a debut album released just a few weeks ago that runs the gamut of just about everything art/post-punk.
Album #205: The Coronas – True Love Waits
In what seemed a bit of a stretch, I read a piece in The Irish Times at the weekend comparing the battle for the No. 1 spot in Ireland’s Album Chart this week to the Blur/Oasis duel of the 1990s.
Album #204: The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain
I’ve never really understood why the Psychedelic Furs don’t quite have the cool factor that many of their post-punk and new wave contemporaries enjoy today. They’re rarely cited as an influence by modern bands, even though they must have been an indirect one at least. Most of their fans seem to be people old enough to have lived through their peak, and I imagine that if I saw them live, I’d be one of the youngest there at 36.
Album #203: Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
When Fontaines D.C. released their debut album Dogrel last year, I almost felt sorry for them. Here was a band barely out of their teens, nailing post-punk on their first attempt in a way some bands haven’t managed to in their whole career. Definitely my album of 2019, if not the decade, I did wonder where exactly they could go from there.
Album #202: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Architecture and Morality
It’s pretty poor that I’ve never really listened to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Not only are they one of the most crucial electronic bands of the 1980s, they’re also from just down the road from me. At least one of them went to the same school as I did – though much earlier!
Album #201: Tsunami Bomb – The Ultimate Escape
The Ultimate Escape was an album constantly on my list of CDs to buy around this time, but I never did. With the wonders of today’s digital music subscription packages, I can at last listen to it.
Album #200: e4444e – Coldstream Road
This oddly named project was mentioned on a list I read of the best Australian albums of the year. I thought I’d listen to it, if only because of the odd name.
Album #199: Skywave – Took the Sun
I didn’t realise that Oliver Ackermann of the ridiculously loud A Place to Bury Strangers was previously involved an a band called Skywave that put out five or six albums of their own between 1998 and 2004. Their debut, Took the Sun, is hard to get hold of, or at least it would be if someone hadn’t uploaded it on YouTube.
Album #198: Rocketship – A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness
The Duster album Stratosphere (which I reviewed earlier this year) randomly popped into my head yesterday. An internet trail I went on to do with the album led me to a Reddit post saying anyone who likes Stratosphere should listen to A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, the debut album by Duster’s fellow Californians Rocketship.
Album #197: Swell Maps – A Trip To Marineville
Time for another trip back into post-punk’s murky past. Birmingham band Swell Maps were actually formed in 1972, but little of their early work is available and it wasn’t until the end of the ’70s that they started to get attention.
Album #196: Neon Trees – I Can Feel You Forgetting Me
I tend to like bands with ‘Trees’ in their name. Screaming Trees and And Also the Trees are two examples, along with the Polish band The Feral Trees who I discovered earlier this year. Plus I like trees themselves – how could you not?
Album #195: The Naked and Famous – Recover
The new fourth album from the indie electronic band The Naked and Famous is really all I have on my radar today in what’s a bit of a low-key week.
Album #194: Whipping Boy – Heartworm
I’m always amazed at how many lost classics the ’90s still boasts, and I never stop finding new ones. This week, I heard a track by the Irish alt-rock/post-punk band Whipping Boy and was pretty awestruck by the powerful blend of poetry and captivating riffs.
Album #193: Crack Cloud – Pain Olympics
I’ll confess I had forgotten what Crack Cloud sounded like. I saved a couple of EPs by them a while ago and remembered I liked them, but when their debut full-length album dropped last Friday, it was a bit of a rediscovery.
Album #192: Pink Siifu – Negro
I’ve heard it said that part of the reason why punk declined in popularity as the ’80s went on is that rap started to become more punk than punk. The second album from hip-hop/rapper Pink Siifu seems to prove that point – it is, for me, definitely a punk album.
Album #191: Cheesemind – Say Good Bye Enterprise
I found Chinese dream pop band Cheesemind on a list of great 2020 albums (this one, in the spirit of helping fellow music bloggers) I looked at yesterday, so thought they’re new LP sounded an interesting listen.
Album #190: Motorama – Poverty
There’s an interesting scene of Eastern European post-punk that’s getting very little attention over here. I’ve been listening to the Belarusian band Molchat Doma lately, and was about to review their last album, but they’re hinting at releasing another one soon, so under my fairly daft self-imposed “one album per act” rule, I’ve decided to hold off on it.
Album #189: The Lawrence Arms – Skeleton Coast
“Oh yeah, The Lawrence Arms,” I thought, when I saw they had an album out on Friday, kind of like when an old school friend brings up a classmate you’d forgotten about. TLA are one of a number of bands from the circa-2000 Epitaph/Fat Wreck punk scene that was my go-to music choice at the time, but I probably haven’t thought about for the last 10 years.
Album #188: JARV IS… – Beyond the Pale
Just over six months ago, Jarvis Cocker found himself unexpectedly in with a shout of a Christmas number 1 with a campaign to get his 2006 song “Cunts are Still Running the World” to the top of the charts in response to the Conservatives winning the 2019 election.
Album #187: Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today
Today saw the release of one of my most anticipated albums of 2020. I can’t quite believe that it’s been nearly three years since Detroit post-punks Protomartyr released Relatives in Descent, but here they are with their fifth album, Ultimate Success Today.
Album #186: 1000mods – Youth of Dissent
To Greece for the next entry in this blog. I’m surprised how much of the world I’ve managed to cover so far, without actually going out of my way to look for music from lesser-heard parts of the world. Well, I have a few times (Colombia’s Los Suziox and Belarus’s Messed Up) but most of it has been pretty natural.
Album #185: Orange Juice – Rip It Up
If, like me, you grew up in the 1990s, you might mistakenly think of Edwyn Collins as something of an obscure one-hit wonder. He had a Top 5 single in 1995 with ‘A Girl Like You’ – a fine and timeless pop song that still crops up on adverts and mainstream radio today, but little other success as a solo artist.
Album #184: Sad Lovers & Giants – Epic Garden Music
I always think of Joy Division, Wire and Public Image Limited as the holy trinity of British post-punk, with The Cure too mainstream to be included and The Fall too much of a cult of their own. In reality though, there were loads more bands peddling the sound, and someone who likes the genre as much as me should be familiar with more of them.
Album #183: FACS – Void Moments
I probably don’t pay as much attention to labels as I should do. When I was reading up on Lithics yesterday, I noticed that another band I love, Omni, were on the same label. Maybe Trouble in Mind have a whole roster of great bands signed up? I thought I’d listen to another release on the label from earlier this year.
Album #182: Lithics – Tower of Age
Lithics released one of my favourite albums of 2018 in Mating Surfaces. It had somehow escaped my attention that they released their third album last month.
Album #181: The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers
I’ve long thought Iceland is the world’s ballsiest country, what with it being one of the few country to punish the bankers and bail out the public after 2008 recession. Giving it a good run for its money these days though is New Zealand, helped mainly by its radical approach to politics that’s somewhat out of kilter with much of the Western world – electing a pleasant, sensible person as its leader!
Album #180: Failure – Comfort
One of those bands now that I’ve heard the name of, and expect I will like, but I’ve never got round to lending them my ears.
Album #179: Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Time for a review of another slightly obscure shoegaze album that’s been brought to my attention.
Album #178: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways to New Italy
So many great albums came out on June 5th. The second album from Australian indie-rock/post-punk band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever was one of them. I listened to it on the day of its release and liked it, but put it on the back burner.
Album #177: HEALTH – Death Magic
After going to Leeds Festival in 2008, I decided I was going to get back into music after a bit of a dry spell. It proved to be a false start and it was probably around 2103 before my interest in music was really reignited, but back then I bought a few albums by “whatever happened to…?” bands like TV on the Radio and Fighting With Wire, as well as some pretty experimental debut albums by Fuck Buttons and L.A. band HEALTH.
Album #176: The Lemonheads – Hate Your Friends
I’m working my way through The Lemonheads’ chronology in a topsy-turvy way.
Album #175: bdrmm – Bedroom
I’m not sure about these bands that leave the consonants out of their names. Whether PWR BTTM and the allegations against them have soured it for me I don’t know. Anyway, names aren’t everything and I like what I’ve heard from bdrmm previously, so let’s give it a go.
Album #174: Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…
When Dream Wife first started to make noises three years ago or so, I read a description of them that’s stuck with me – a cross between the Spice Girls and The Fall.
Album #173: Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
In what is probably an all-time first for the UK album chart, the top two positions are currently occupied by two men with a combined age of over a century and a half. Just ahead of Neil Young at the top spot is songwriting legend Bob Dylan, with an incredible 39th studio album of a career spanning nearly 60 years.
Album #172: Acid Mothers Temple – Are We Experimental?
I have a poster from an Acid Mothers Temple tour of 2012 hung up in my house. My wife bought it simply because she liked the poster, but neither of us have ever bothered to listen to the band. It’s time I did!
Album #171: Grey Daze – Amends
I’ve never been a massive fan of Linkin Park, but I felt I had to listen to this record. Grey Daze was a band fronted by the late Chester Bennington before he found fame in the early 2000s nu-metal explosion.
Album #170: OHHMS – Close
I’m always intrigued, if sometimes underwhelmed, by these six- or seven-track sludge metal/post-rock albums. Kent-based OHHMS have only been around since 2014 but are already on their third, with Close dropping last Friday.
Album #168: Moscow Death Brigade – Bad Accent Anthems
I’ve said before on this blog that I sometimes think European bands should sing in their own language rather than write and sing in non-native English. Seemingly taking that criticism and owning it are Russian punk/hip-hop crossover band Moscow Death Brigade on this second album Bad Accent Anthems.
Album #167: Pottery – Welcome to Bobby’s Motel
After a couple of very decent LPs last year, I’ve been looking forward to the debut album from zany and funky indie-rockers Pottery. Here it is, and it somehow feels like the perfect soundtrack to being in the midst of both a heatwave and a pandemic. It’s exuberant and danceable, yet surreal and nonsensical at the same time.
Album #166: Drab City – Good Songs For Bad People
I’ve been sitting on this debut LP from the dreamy, glitchy duo Drab City. Its eerie, intriguing and I’m still not totally sure whether I like it.
Album #165: Neil Young – Homegrown
Yet another surprise of the world grinding to a halt is country rock legend Neil Young bestowing an album upon the world that he’d kept to himself for over 45 years, even if technically its release was announced late last year.
Album #164: Hum – Inlet
I don’t know whether it’s down to the inertia of global lockdown, but the last few months have seen a few artists who have been dormant for ages suddenly drop new albums out of the blue. The X comeback album Alphabetland has been the nice surprise of the year for me so far, and I’ll soon be reviewing Neil Young’s Homegrown, an album written and recorded in the mid-1970s that he’d kept to himself until releasing it last Friday.
Album #163: Choir Boy – Gathering Swans
Catching up with this second LP from synth-drenched indie-poppers Choir Boy, which was released in early May. It’s another one I missed at the time, and that I can’t even remember how I found it since.
Album #162: Oranssi Pazazu – Mestarin Kynsi
Finnish five-piece Oranssi Pazazu are widely described as ‘psychedelic black metal’, which I find an intriguing oxymoron. The bright, whimsical, hallucinatory elements of psychedelia intertwined with the dark, brutal repetition of dark metal? How does that work?
Album #161: ELM – The Wait
In possibly the only time I’ve ever taken any notice of a sponsored Facebook ad, I had a listen to the new second album by Italian noise-rockers ELM after seeing it pop up on my feed.