Album #272: METZ – Atlas Vending

When I saw METZ in Liverpool around this time in 2019, I had no idea it would be a year – and probably a fair bit longer – until I saw a live band again. Still, it wasn’t a bad gig to go out on, and their fourth album is one I’ve been especially looking forward to this year.

Album #270: Rose City Band – Summerlong

Every now and again, I have a look at the Album of the Year website to see what I’ve missed. Fiona Apple is still leading for 2020 by some way. Perfume Genius is deservedly high and I keep meaning to listen to Run The Jewels’ latest. One critically acclaimed album I’m not familiar with though is this one by Rose City Band.

Album #265: Jónsi – Shiver

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.

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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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 #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.

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