No one likes January. January is like that relative that no one likes but kind of has to be invited to social gatherings, during which they proceed to ruin everyone else's fun. This year I expected nothing less and was preparing myself for the worst. But something about the month just gone felt very different it, if anything, felt promising and dare I say...exciting. From Bjork's new album being leaked 2 months early to that hideous Rihanna single, there was certainly a lot to talk about, not to mention the promising new album announcements from the likes of Torres, Sufjan Stevens, Waxahatchee and Purity Ring; one thing's for sure, 2015 is here...and it isn't messing around.
Albums of the month
First and foremost, shout out to the new Sleater Kinney, Panda Bear and Bjork albums, which despite having several excellent moments between them didn't really grab me in the way I would've hoped.
Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass
What tops this album off is its rather unique back story; if you are wondering why this record sounds so nostalgic and warm, it could be because it was in fact recorded years ago...three to be exact. Since 2012 it had been sitting with Matthew E. White's Spacebomb label, who cruelly kept it under raps in order to promote the latter's 2012 breakthrough record Big Inner, and rightfully so, that album was a masterpiece in its own right. And even though White is releasing his new record later this year (which I'll be reviewing too), to me 2015 finally is Prass' time to shine. With such an accomplished debut, is see no reason why whatever she releases in the future won't be even better, as long as she's used this time productively, I'm expecting big things from this rising chanteuse.
Full review here
Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again
There is certainly a timeless quality to Pratt's music and though I've never been an advocate for the 'real music' brigade who dismiss anything with a trace of synth, Pratt's ~traditional~ sound is certainly a breath of fresh air my my mostly-electronic music library. That's not to say that Pratt doesn't experiment at all; tracks like 'I've Got A Feeling' and the aptly titled 'Strange Melody' toy with nauseating guitar textures and multi-layered vocalization. With only 9 tracks this album, to me at least, feels like more of a taste of what's to come from Pratt, and if 'Strange Melody' and 'Back, Baby' are anything to go by, there will be a lot more excellent material to come.
Menace Beach - Ratworld
The contrast between songs like “Lowtalkin'” and “Blue Eye” shows that Menace Beach are a lot more versatile than their peers in the psych-rock world. While the former is punchy, aggressive and raw, the latter is much softer, lighter and even ethereal in the way of Slow Dive. Without a doubt “Fortune Teller” is the album’s best song and finds the band adopting a grunge-meets-MBV shoegaze sound to add a new dynamic to the record. With indie rock being such a crowded genre, I really hope Menace Beach continue to experiment with their sound and push the envelope further on future releases, as “Fortune Teller” is proof that it will pay off.
Full review over on Earbuddy
Songs of the month
Waxahatchee - Air
If you trace back to the end of 2013, you'll remember that I placed Katie Crutchfield's sophomore album at number 1 on my favourite albums of 2013 list. Now she's back with a new album in April titled Ivy Tripp (see artwork above), having signed with Merge records, I was expecting a radical departure from her lo-fi grunge sound from which she made her name, and I wasn't far wrong. 'Air' sounds very much like a Waxahatchee song, though it certainly feels a lot bigger than her previous tracks, there is a confidence her which feels as if Crutchfield has really found her stride.
Marika Hackman - Animal Fear
Following the release of her excellent EP That Iron Taste back in 2013, I have been waiting for Marika Hackman to drop her debut album. Since then she has released a string of EPs, all of which were great, but nothing grabbed me as much as her debut single 'Bath is Black', but this changed as of this month. 'Animal Fear' is possibly the finest track Hackman has released to date, now her debut cannot come sooner.
Torres - Strange Hellos
Mackenzie Scott is back, and guess what...she's pissed. The first taste of her new record Sprinter is a rip-roaring package of spite and attitude, and it's excellent. Half the time it sounds as if her teeth are gritted, to the point where the words are incomprehensible, but the sentiment is clear none-the-less.
Lower Dens - To Die In LA
At this point, I am very much over Winter and I want Spring. So until I have perfected my time-shifting skills I'll just have to listen to this track on repeat to stimulate the season until it actually comes. The band have adopted a much more euphoric and light sound, reminiscent to Cocteau Twins by the way Ballet School. I am also a sucker for visuals and their artwork game is incredibly strong at the moment.
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Love After Love
In case you didn't know, dark ambient is one of my favourite genres, and at this point in time I'm assuming Jefre Cantu-Ledesma will be filling the void that has been lingering in my music library for the last 5 or so months. Packed with texture and depth, Pale Flower is a tantalizing taste of what I'm sure will be one of my favourite albums of the year.
Purity Ring - Begin Again
Though I didn't totally ~love~ their critically debut Shrines, it certainly did have some very strong moments (plus the artwork was pretty). 'Begin Again' is already my favourite song of theirs, production-wise it's now less about the glitchiness and more of the melodic noir-pop aspect of their original sound, and I like it,
Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian At Best
Much like Marika Hackman a ~proper~ album release from Aussie slacker queen Courtney Barnett has been a long time coming. This is certainly one of my favourite tracks from her to date and I am very much looking forward to more of her witticism/cynicism. I am now fully committed to repeating the line "I think you're a joke, but I don't find you very funny" as a put-down at some point this year, just a heads up.
Diet Cig - Scene Sick
*Insert obligatory comment about my love or straight-up Indie Rock*
No but seriously, this is a really great track. It's nice to see an Indie band taking a stab at the scene that would be the most likely to embrace and champion them, plus the sentiment of 'I don't care' is always a welcomed one.
Petite Meller - Baby Love
When I wrote about Petite Meller's brassy track 'Backpack' late last year, I didn't expect her release a full-on banger, but she has proved me wrong with 'Baby Love'. Very catchy. Very fun. Very French.