By Jon Milton
This week bought not one, but two excellent psych rock albums in the form of ‘Centre’ by Mt Mountain, and the self-titled first album by Diagonal, on Fuzz Club and Little Cloud Records respectively.
Mt Mountain’s fourth album begins majestically with ‘Tassels’, seven minutes of sparkling krautrock, and it concludes with the sublime, laid back ‘Deluge’. In between are seven hypnotic tracks that glisten and beguile with their undoubted elegance. It’s a wonderful album that is made for zoning out to.
Equally polished and wondrous is the debut album from Chicago’s Diagonal. The two singles ‘Anticipation’ and ‘Negatives’ kick off the album and are followed by the sixties garage sounding 'Hemingway' and 'Monotony', the Motorik wig-out 'Runes', masterful psych of 'Waves' and 'Serotonin' interspersed with a couple of quieter moments in ‘In the Tall Grass’ and ‘Snail’. As with Mt Mountain’s ‘Centre’ the album draws you in so that you feel as though it has breezed by in a flash, which should give you some indication of its immersive splendour.
Blume continue this week’s spacy, tripped out theme with ‘In Heaven’, the second single from their new album due out next week. In Heaven celebrates Velvet Underground / Spiritualised, following on from their dreamy ‘Do the Same’ single, also released this month.
Having released his Green and Blue EP’s last year Toby Hayes of Laundromat returned this week with a new single ‘Flat Planet’, taken from his forthcoming, you guessed it ‘Red’ EP. Its another fine tune that blends shuffling hip hop beats with indie sensibilities rather nicely.
Elsewhere this week we came across the new single by Eades and new EP by Gardenback. Eades are apparently a collective made up of songwriters, producers, sound engineers and session musicians who describe themselves as ‘David Byrne and Lou Reed’s dyslexic child playing out of a Motorola Pebl’, whatever that means. ‘Former Warnings Cluster is a great tune though, full of quirks and clever touches, very much in the Home Counties/Public Body mould.
Similarly upbeat is Gardenback’s excellent new ‘Word of Mouth’ EP. The title and track and ‘Do No Evil’ bustle with confident sixties riffs, 'Cynical Guy' is moody and reverb-driven, and ‘Go Native’ treads the same early eighties territory that Pottery do so well on ‘Welcome to Bobby’s Motel’. All in all its rather good.
You can listen to all of the singles listed above and more on our updated monthly playlist.
It’s been a cracking start to the year on the album front. Shame set the bar high last month with Drunk Tank Pink, and each of the new albums released in the last couple of weeks from TV Priest, Black Country New Road and Mush respectively have been an absolute joy to hear.
TV Priest’s debut album ‘Uppers’ is a promising debut from a band that we’ve been impressed by since their first single ‘House of York’ dropped last year. Uppers begins with the question ‘where do you sit on the big curve?’ and the band’s erudite musings continue throughout the album, taking in a range of themes covering areas such as the post Brexit world, the press and the internet and algorithms. Musically ‘Uppers’ straddles post punk and Krautrock experimentation, Joy Division/Warsaw, Gang of Four, early U2, the Fall and Bunnymen mixed in with Neu and Faust. It’s not perfect (too much Motorik in places for my liking) but it is a fine debut nonetheless. The band have already suggested that a follow up may be on its way later this year and it would be great to see the glimpses of experimentation featured on Uppers developed further.
We knew what we were getting with Black Country New Road’s debut ‘For the First Time’ before Ninja Tune released it, with four of its six tracks already released as singles. The two remaining tracks ‘Instrumental’ and ‘Opus’ open and close the album, the former a Balkan romp and the latter a similarly Eastern European sounding whirling Dervish. Reich, Jazz, manic indie rock and more all combine in between, and the album as a whole is an excellent journey in sound from a band that you feel still have a lot more to give.
Mush’s second album 'Lines Redacted' was released a week or so ago, and almost exactly a year on from the band’s debut '3D Routine'. Their sound has evolved over that time, more lo-fi throughout on this record - imagine if Captain Beefheart produced and tinkered with the Velvet Underground’s third album and you should get the picture. There's a lot to admire in this record, but as was the case with their debut it’s the longest track that stands out, this time on album closer 'Lines Discountinued' which also sees vocalist Dan Hyndman deviate from his trademark hopped up Dylan/Lou Reed-esque drawl to sing in more measured, almost hushed tones.
White Flowers also have an album on the way which they announced this week, alongside its title track ‘Daylight’. The band have consistently produced sublime music ever since they surfaced early in 2020, clearly heavily influenced by the Cocteau Twins, albeit imbued with their own unique style. Daylight continues in this rich vein and we look forward to hearing the full album when its released in May.
Staying with shoegaze and psychedelia, just round the corner is the self-titled new album by six-piece from Chicago, Diagonal. The album is out on the 26th on Little Cloud Records, and judging by the two singles released so far, Anticipation and Negatives it should be pretty special.
Mixing psychedelia and baggy are Manchester’s Suave Martyrs who have just released a storming new single ‘Cascades of Gold’. Sitting somewhere between the Sandkings, early Ocean Colour Scene and Paris Angels, Cascades of Gold is brimming with energy, and for those of us that can remember Madchester and all that, brings back many fond memories!
Sheffield based band Workfriends perked up our ears with their debut single ‘Man on the Run’ last year and have finally released its follow up in ‘Sick and Tired’. Its another top tune too, smartly written and sounding like they had a lot of fun recording it. Hopefully they won’t leave it another year to release their next track – they’re definitely a band to watch out for.
The Lounge Society also made a splash last year with their debut single ‘Generation Game’, which was one of our top three tunes of 2020. Having their single released on Speedy Wunderground has naturally meant that they’ve already garnered a lot of media attention and they seem to be picking up momentum with a new single ‘Cain’s Heresy’ out this week and a debut EP scheduled for release later this year. Cain’s Heresy is a blinding tune as well, just under 4 minutes of pure quality. Given their tender age there can only be more to come from this lot too. Superb.
Manchester’s Loose Articles describe themselves as ‘feminine and threatening, working and class’ so it’s of no great surprise that their new single ‘Buses’ is rather in your face, in a good way of course. Produced by Theo Verney, Buses is uncompromising and splendid.
If you fancy a bit of swaggering post punk, look no further than Hallan’s new single ‘Hands Up’. It’s a confident little devil that stomps along with a riff that sparkles. The band seem to be improving with every new single too.
Concluding our round up this week is Gazebo the debut EP by Personal Trainer. There are five tracks on the EP in total, the excellent ‘Fiddlefunk’ kicking off proceedings alongside new tracks ‘Crops’ and ‘The Loozer’ and two previously released singles ‘Politics’ and ‘Muscle Memory’. We like.