Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums, EPS and singles from Idles, Laura Marling, Spectres, Grandaddy and PINS.
Idles – Brutalism
Balley Records, 10.03 | Buy
There’s not a lot that hasn’t been said about Idles in this magazine. We’ve watched them grow over the last five years, changing their sound, taking time out, yet hitting us in the heart and head with every output. Their debut album Brutalism though is the one we’ve all been waiting for. It fittingly comes just as they’re pushing through to great heights and will no doubt exceed them further still.
What defines Idles is their unquestionable drive and determination to push important issues home. On tracks like ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ we hear vocalist Joe Talbot fiercely throw down those who dismiss art without understanding it, while numbers like the poignant ‘Mother’ take aim at the Tory government. Since their comeback show at The Louisiana last year, we knew the band were finally going to demand the ears of the wider national audience. Yes, Idles are an absolute win for the Bristol music scene. Rhys Buchanan
Pulled Apart By Horses – The Haze
Caroline International, 17.03 | Buy
Four albums in, this hardcore rock four-piece are thriving with both critical and commercial acclaim. At times The Haze hits back with a guitar-driven wave of raw, palpable aggression, such as on tracks like ‘Neighbourhood Witch’ and ‘Prince of Meats’, recalling the ferocity of previous records.
However for the most part it’s a stuttered lesson in restraint, be it the stilted riffs of ‘Hotel Motivation’ or the stunted guitars of the decidedly downbeat ‘Moonbather’. It’s a bag of mixed treasure, rough diamonds and fool’s gold. What’s missing here is the direct immersive energy Pulled Apart by Horses once possessed – time will tell if it’ll return with extra attitude. Oliver Evans
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
More Alarming Records, 10.03 | Buy
Laura Marling’s Semper Femina is a collection of soulful harmonies questioning the perceptions and realities of femininity. Meaning ‘always a woman’, each song on the album is a unique story of women’s experience.
First single, ‘Soothing’, explores sensuality with celestial tones and spacious percussion. Tracks like ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ draw the listener in with its husky vocals and Joni Mitchell-esque tale of heartbreak, while ‘Always This Way’ is a stripped-back melancholic folk song, with an empathetic look at lost love. ‘Wild Once’ is an affectionate look at the physicality of women, while closing track ‘Nothing, Not Nearly’ features electric guitars and a bluesy aesthetic. It feels fresh, intimate and emotionally intelligent. Georgia Balch
Spectres – Condition
Sonic Cathedral, 10.03 | Buy
Never ones to shy away from pushing things to their limits and beyond, often revelling in a certain divisiveness and relishing the chance to “snap people out of their comfort zones”, Spectres’ second full-length offering Condition sees the band delving further into the murky depths of their distorted, feedback-laden swathes of sound.
Heralded by the heady white noise and droning soundscape of first single ‘Dissolve’, the album was born from the Bristol four-piece’s desire to further their warped experimentation in guitar sounds, eliciting the hedonistic, abrasive, screeching sonic strata that these tracks proffer. A pertinently visceral release, Condition proves why Spectres are such a vital band amidst a dark abyss. Kezia Cochrane
Grandaddy – Last Place
Columbia, 03.03 | Buy
After ten years away from recording together, Grandaddy have lost none of their ability to craft music that, as assured of its intentions as it may seem, has a way of only unveiling its substance over time. Last Place is an evanescing record, one of slowly-fading structures and balmy poise, yet can’t help but evoke the impression of actuality that they almost elude to.
What can’t be disregarded is an element of the turning of time, a finality to its proceedings that interprets their perception of human character (their brightest attribute) amongst their own personal aging and growth in existence. Last Place fits seamlessly into an underrated catalogue as a success. Ross Jones
Temples – Volcano
Heavenly Records, 03.03 | Buy
Temples are back with eagerly-anticipated new album, Volcano. Following their 2014 rise to music stardom with debut Sun Structures, their latest venture delivers expansive psych elements and synths, encompassed by glistening guitar.
Having expanded their own musical set up – they didn’t own a subwoofer during Sun Structures – Temples have created a matured and well-constructed album fusing the analogue with the synthetic. Contemplative lyrics are layered over metallic sounds and dreamlike melodies, ticking all the usual psych-rock boxes. Although grounded with a more established sound, Volcano retains the infectious quality that first caught our ears in 2014. Sometimes slow and haze-induced, at others eccentric and quirky, Volcano expresses progression and continuation in unison. Hannah Wakeman
Fránçois & The Atlas Mountains — Solide Mirage
Domino, 03.03 | Buy
A lack of knowledge of the French language subtracts nothing from the enjoyment of this album. Providing a romanticised view of a lazy afternoon from across the English Channel, Solide Mirage leans towards high notes with the softness of a cashmere blanket.
Lacking French knowledge detriments the understanding of the lyrics but it does allow pure enjoyment of the vocal range and melodic nature of Fránçois Merry’s singing. ‘ pres Après’ makes an electronic turn, sounding like it came straight out of an arcade game, while ‘Bête Morcelée’ adds a punch to the album with its relentless energy, seeping from the chords. Solide Mirage will make any music collection feel worldly. Callum Stevens
PINS ft. Iggy Pop – Bad Thing
Bella Union, 24.03 | Buy
Recorded in a cottage in the Scottish wilderness, Bad Thing is a two-tone recording. It strides between clattering, tinsel-wrapped indie rock – full of crisp fluttering vocal melodies and a smudging of distorted guitars you’d associate with The Vaselines or Slits – and synth-drenched, post-punky shoegaze by way of a two-track epilogue, the final track quite aptly being a Joy Division cover.
Its forthcoming single ‘Aggrophobe’ features Iggy Pop performing a spoken-word piece across darkened, moody melodies. It’s a snappy little number itching for repeat plays, but does feel a little like a guitar-based re-run of ‘Aisha’ – minus the captivating narrative. Stuart Tidy
Alexis Taylor – Listen With(out) Piano
Moshi Moshi, 03.03 | Buy
Bearing Alexis Taylor’s distinctive, melodic tenderness throughout the course of the eleven collaborative tracks, this is an album that exudes a considered, graceful precision. Listen With(out) Piano is the result of eleven artists, chosen by the Hot Chip frontman, responding to the delicate, evocative songs on Taylor’s third solo album Piano, out last year.
Featuring compositions from Beatrice Dillon, Papa M and Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside to name a few, it’s presented as both a blended version and standalone reinterpretation, offering the listener multiple auditory experiences. From Susumi Mukai’s flickering, unearthly noises to Lung Dart’s choral acapella, this album provides a uniquely haunting and strikingly emotive sonic array. Kezia Cochrane
The Nightjar – Objects
Pear O’ Legs Records, 17.03 | Buy
With their introductory full-length, Bristol-based quartet The Nightjar set out with the intention to explore (and ultimately embody) the transient nature of existence and consequence of being. With an undoubtedly earthly sound, the group have created a record of unconfined ambience and colour – an impressive feat for the wonderfully natural elements on offer.
Accentuated by the utterly breathtaking voice of Mo Kirby and the carefully sculptured notes that draw out such a voice further, the emphasis could easily be taken away from the value of verse. The Nightjar display an aptness for actuating an empathetic spirit, one that further embraces their inherent balance of cognisance and self-research. Ross Jones
Cursor Major – Silent Disco Punch Up
Bellicose Records 17.03 | Buy
Celestially-themed odd-popper Cursor Major returns with another EP of nth degree new wave, written and recorded “in bedrooms between Bristol and London.” Richness is what we’ve come to expect from Andy Norton, and Silent Disco Punch Up is no exception.
The EP’s eponymous opener chugs and modulates as Norton channels anxiety through his trademark coy lyricism, and melodic devices chirp in and out like a canopy chorus. The immediacy of ëEskimo Rollí makes the biggest impact however, with its 80s anthemism and 70s guitar lines, an unholy marriage which typifies Cursor Majorís approach. While you may need more than one listen to digest his vivid output, Cursor Major is quite stellar. Loki Lillistone