SCM Music’s Album Picks: July to September – American Dreams, Antisocialites and Science Fictions
Well we’re here, a little later than usual, but no less appropriate! It was tricky to pick which albums to feature this month, but we think we’ve got a great selection, all begging for your attention! Enjoy!
Alvvays – Antisocialites
Alvvays really stepped up their game for this new release. Their debut was somewhat throwaway, but on Antisocialites the band give us 10 tight, concise and fun tracks that take the album to just over half an hour in length. Molly Rankin’s talent for creating accessible yet sophisticated Pop music really comes through on this album, and should pull in a new wave of fans to the band. If you’re taste lies in the more upbeat side of 90’s Jangle Pop, look no further.
Brand New – Science Fiction
With what could be their final release, Brand New pull out all the stops for Science Fiction. A brilliant conceptual album, Science Fiction shows the band doing what they do best; writing really, really good Rock music. Science Fiction is an album that is not confined by the band’s Emo and Punk influences, but will appeal to a wider audience and perhaps people who have not delved into their discography before. Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no denying this album is spectacular, cinematic and a joy to listen to.
Eugene Capper & Rhodri Brooks – Pontvane
Years in the making, the collaboration between Eugene Capper and Rhodri Brooks does not disappoint. Incorporating elements of Folk, Psychedelic, Surf Rock, Spoken Word and Alternative Rock, Pontvane is an odyssey of Art and nostalgia. Tracks such as ‘Kingsland Road’ and ‘Sophie’s Song’ are tender and whistful, while opener ‘Don’t Expect’ and ‘Scary Shoes’ are examples of the duo pulling their music into erratic and unpredictable areas. If you’re unfamiliar with these guys, this album is well worth your time.
Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher
Jen Cloher’s self-titled LP is a bag of sadness, defiance and love, with glints of hopefulness that pushes and pulls the emotions of its listener. Cloher’s brutally honest lyrics and gritty whit shines through as she laments long distance relationships, the Australian music scene and her experiences of being a woman in the music industry. It’s a tremendous listen and one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year. If this thing has fallen under your radar please do yourself a favour and check it out.
Deerhoof – Mountain Moves
Mountain Moves is many things; it’s catchy, infectious, self-indulgent, off-kilter at times and jam packed with tune after tune. Deerhoof dance around on this album, seemingly going down one route before skipping down another. It throws the listener around a surprisingly brilliant listen and brings on board some special guests who often are the cherry on the cake for several tracks. Check it out!
Girl Ray – Earl Grey
After releasing a stream of formidable singles, Girl Ray’s debut album, released on Moshi Moshi is just as charming and uplifting as one would expect. From the wonderful ‘Don’t Go Back At Ten’ to the subtle closer ‘Waiting Ages’, Earl Grey showcases the group’s talent for captivating an audience, while tracks such as ‘Earl Grey (Stuck In A Groove)’ and ‘A Few Months’ incorporate elements of sonic experimentation. On the whole, Earl Grey is a well crafted, well written and very fun debut album.
Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Choir Of The Mind
The Metric frontwoman’s new solo record might just be better than her band’s last two records. Choir Of The Mind is a wonderfully stripped back and simplistic album that let’s Haines exhibit her vocal and lyrical abilities with little interruption. The songs on this record are laid back and stand on their own feet without referencing Metric’s Indie Rock sensibilities. Even people who are not familiar with Metric and enjoy piano and electronic flecked music should definitely give this record a listen.
The Horrors – V
V is a pleasant and unexpected direction for The Horrors. Not quite abandoning their psychedelic agenda, their sound is definitely more produced and their songs cleaner, funkier and catchy. All this works in the band’s favour, and after a mixed fourth LP, V is a studio album full of bangers and hooks, with tracks such as ‘Press Enter To Exit’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ taking the band to antithetic heights.
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Despite raising eyebrows after reforming just a few years after breaking up, American Dream is every bit the great LCD Soundsystem album we all hoped it would be. James Murphy writes in a mature, cynical fashion, while the band give us some of their most 80’s influenced material yet, pulling from Disco music to U2 and beyond. LCD Soundsystem wisely don’t try and emulate their past though, instead trying new sounds, pulling in new directions and managing to bring us fresh, enjoyable material.
Oh Sees – Orc
Ditching the ‘Thee’, Oh Sees’ Orc is a mixture of their older, faster, energetic punk music with influence from last year’s A Weird Exits and Odd Entrances, Orc is diverse, flamboyant and proof that the band aren’t scared to deviate from the sound the created on past releases. Oh Sees pull from the theatrical on some tracks, conjuring the titular orc into existence through distorted vocals and wailing guitars. It’s testament to the song writing ability of the group that they are still able to enthrall a listener after so many releases.
Tyler, The Creator – Scum Fuck Flower Boy
Tyler, The Creator’s latest release may just be one of the finest Hip Hop albums to be released this year. With a sound that’s as much indebted to Neo Soul as it is to Horrorcore and Tyler’s past with OFWGKTA, Scum Fuck Flower Boy produces come of Tyler’s most revealing and surprising lyrics to date, with some innovative and forward thinking beats that compliment his flow. See ‘Who Dat Boy’, ‘911’ and ‘Where This Flower Blooms’ for some key moments. Also shoutout to Jaden Smith for not being terrible on ‘Pothole’.
Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
If Ivy Tripp saw Katie Crutchfield dabbling in Alternative Folk, Out In The Storm is her transition into full-blown Indie Rock. Her vocal twangs and lyrical charm come through excellently on this album, as she takes centre stage and delivers one of her finest performances. With a confidence that could be seen as akin to that of Kate Bush, Out In The Storm is also Waxahatchee’s most accessible album, but will no doubt keep long term fans interested with her captivating demeanor and musical talent.
Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life
Visions Of A Life is an album that takes it’s time, but will work it’s way under your skin. Wolf Alice have developed their sound enough from their debut to craft hooks that reel the listener in. Yeah, there are a few predictable lyrics here and there, but it’s also an album that’s hard to put down and walk away from. The band dabble in some new ideas, but the big appeal here is the song craft and My Bloody Valentine aesthetic that Visions Of A Life create. Kudos Wolf Alice, this album will win over skeptics.
These guys didn’t quite make it into our favourites, but they’re still worth your time!
Ariel Pink – Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, Brockhampton – Saturation II, Everything Everything – A Fever Dream, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers, Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet, Kesha – Rainbow, The National – Sleep Well Beast, Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley, Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom, Katie Von Schleicher – Shitty Hits, Susanne Sundfør – Music For People In Trouble
There were some great releases this last quarter. Alas, these albums weren’t some of them.
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
Lana Del Rey seems to be a slippery slope of releasing gradually more mediocre records. Lust For Life justifies this, with some of Del Rey’s most bland, faceless and downright AWFUL lyrics which she croons over uninspired Baroque Pop and washed out string sections. All this without mentioning the wasted appearances from Stevie Nicks and ASAP Rocky, as well as a terrible duet with The Weeknd.
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
After four really great records (I will defend Reflektor to the death) Arcade Fire dropped their most sickeningly underwhelming album to date. With about two good tracks on this thing (the title track and ‘Signs Of Life’) Everything Now is self-congratulatory, overlong and extremely grating. Win Buter’s usually great lyrics read like bad Sixth Form poetry, repetitive and unimaginative. I’m not against a band selling out, but come on.
Foo Fighters – Concrete And Gold
While there are moments of enjoyment on this Foo Fighters LP, Concrete and Gold is just that; a Foo Fighters LP. The band are hardly known for their consistent albums, and Concrete And Gold is as hit and miss as most of the band’s previous material. Pass.
Haim – Something To Tell You
Something To Tell You is not a bad record, but having been three years since Haim released their (really good) debut album, STTY barely fills expectations. The hollow love songs and empty lyrics grow quite stale after a couple of listens, making it an album that does not need to be revisted. Here’s hoping album three switches things up a bit.
The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful
The Killers have always had a way of releasing over the top music, but Wonderful Wonderful is on another level of cringe and cliché. The band bring in chart-like production and electronics which clash with their traditional Alt-Rock sensibilities. They manage to ruin one of the most beautiful songs ever written (Brian Eno’s ‘An Ending (Ascent)’) and incorporate and spoken word passage by Woody Harrelson that doesn’t go down too well. It’s always sad to see a once great Indie band critique modern acts before releasing a poor record. Suggestion: avoid.