SCM Music’s Album Picks: January to March – Veterans, Communions and Idiot Proverbs
NEW YEAR, same old posts.
Hi, welcome to 2018, and a year already drowning in excellent music. Once again we’re back with our quarterly round-ups of the best music to come out every three months. This last quarter has seen an array of great Jazz, Folk, Indie, Dance, World, Pop and Hip Hop music enter the world, and we’ve got the best of them here.
So, without further ado…
A.A.L. (Against All Logic) – 2012-2017
The alter ego of electronic artist Nicolas Jaar, Against All Logic’s 2012-2017 compilation is an infectious grouping of grooves and beats riddled with samples and appearances from funk, soul, pop and hip hop. All this helps make this record a compelling House music album yet retaining accessibility that some casual listeners will find appealing. 2012-2017 might slip under a lot of people’s radars, but this Album of the Year contender is definitely worth a listen, no matter what your taste.
Liza Anne – Fine But Dying
Liza Anne’s Pop Rock album Fine But Dying pretty much does as it says on the tin. Filled with Millennialism concerns of paranoia, anxiety and love, Liza Anne pulls from Angel Olsen to create an album full of wonderful words and sounds. Her tentative approach to life and the challenges it throws at us is the perfect example of a generation trying to move on with their lives but worried about wasting it. With songwriting this excellent, here’s hoping she continues to grow her fanbase.
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)
This reworking of the group’s breakout 2011 LP is damn near perfection. Will Toledo and co. finally made this album what it was intended to be with the help from Matador records. The sheer emotion from the original recording remains unchanged, but the crisp sounds and fleshed out instrumentation of the re-release increase the punch that it delivers. Tracks such as ‘Cute Thing’ and ‘Bodys’ are given new leases of life and brought to a new audience. A phenomenal record.
Elliot Galvin – The Influencing Machine
With London’s Dinosaur leaving us hungry for some of their unique style of Jazz after their Mercury nominated debut, pianist Elliot Galvin takes centre stage on this new release. With a new Dinosaur album supposedly coming our way in 2018, Galvin’s hypnotic and attention grabbing compositions only make us more eager for new material. It’s great to hear Galvin creating some wonderful compositions that will be enjoyed by both new-comers and veterans of the genre alike.
Gwenno – Le Kov
On Gwenno’s second solo studio album, the singer switches her approach to her political Psych Pop and Krautrock style. Le Kov is written entirely in Cornish, as opposed to Welsh, as heard of Y Dydd Olaf. Still, the former Pipettes singer sticks to her mantra of off-kilter yet strong-willed Alternative Pop music that worms its way into the ears of the listener. Tracks such as ‘Tir Ha Mor’ and ‘Eus Keus?’ especially show off the singer’s talent for writing sticky hooks and infectious rhythms.
Park Jiha – Communion
This Korean musician’s debut solo record combines elements of Western Jazz music with traditional Korean instrumentation. Often pushing the boundaries with a beautiful yet abrasive sound, Park Jiha expresses her uncompromising passion for her art. While deeply embedded in Korean music, Communion pulls from elements of Minimalism and Post-Rock. Echoing the title, this record feels like a call to prayer, following the likes of Herbie Hancock and his spiritual works.
Jpegmafia – Veteran
The glitchy, proto-Noise Hip Hop of Jpegmafia’s Veteran is a shock to the system fuses short, sharp beats with witty lyricism. Veteran can pull you from one extreme to the other, with harsh, looped vocal samples one second and chillwave beats the next. Peggy’s bars are sharp and expressive, his vocals sounding like a fusion between Joey Bada$$ and Kurt Cobain. But it would be amiss to say that he sounds like either of these artists, instead carving out his own niche and creating a unique sound.
Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
This (nearly) entirely instrumental record is the sophomore effort of the Texas based trio Khruangbin. Combining elements of Surf Rock, Middle Eastern Music, Dub, Psychedelic and good ol’ fashion Indie music, Con Todo El Mundo is a beautiful effort. There’s a chilled groove that is consistent throughout the entire record, but doesn’t become bogged down in it’s own mellow nature. It’s always interesting, always thought provoking and always enjoyable to listen to.
MGMT – Little Dark Age
Little Dark Age may well the best MGMT album since their debut way back in 2007. On this new release, the duo feel comfortable exploring a retro, lo-fi electronic sound that wouldn’t feel out of place on a cassette. Their lyrics are quirky yet expressive as they float over woozy synthersisers and muted drum beats. There’s no pressure to produce singles or gain radio play with this album, and as a result it feels like the groups most natural release in recent years. A welcome return.
Mount Eerie – Now Only
A continuation from last year’s A Crow Looked At Me, Now Only sees Phil Elverum continuing his grieving process through songs that channel Mark Kozelek’s stream of consciousness and meandering, loosely structured songs. Now Only is just as heartbreaking as it’s predecessor, with the primary focus still being the passing of his wife. However Elverum’s lyrics explore artistry and his development as a writer, almost as if he is beginning to find new meaning in this stage of his career and life.
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
Musgrave’s third studio album sees her move her usual Country sound into a more Psychedelic and Pop directions. Far from selling out, Golden Hour is Musgrave’s most adventurous and sonically interesting album to date. While Musgrave’s vocal style and general themes of the album remain firmly planted in Country music, the production of this record, from the sweeping, reverberated landscapes to little glitches and effects give it a whole different personality. Highly recommended.
Tiny Little Houses – Idiot Proverbs
Singing with the attitude of an early Noughties Rock band and sounding like Weezer in their prime with a sprinkling of The Rapture, Idiot Proverbs is the debut album from Australian band Tiny Little Houses. While running the risk of creating an outdated sound, the group dodge this pitfall by writing stellar songs with honest lyrics that cut to the core with sharp truths. It’s surprising this record hasn’t received as much attention as some other albums, and hopefully more people listen to this excellent debut.
U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
In a Poem Unlimited is U.S. Girl’s most prominent album to date after her fantastic 2015 LP Half Free. This new record sees Meghan Remy’s producing some of the best Pop music of the year so far, with tight grooves and unexpected sonic surprises. Meghan’s slick vocal rhythms are the icing on the cake for this record, as In a Poem Unlimited pushes her to one of the most prominent Alternative Pop acts around. A must listen for anyone who likes their Pop music outgoing and forward thinking.
Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
With every release, Young Fathers raise their game. Ironically this has made their Mercury winning debut Dead their most uninteresting record. Cocoa Sugar sticks to this trend and, on their Ninja Tune debut, the group incorporate elements of Electronic, Minimalist and Gospel music into their sound. Cocoa Sugar feels more like an Art piece then an album itself, and in crafting its sonic landscape, becomes uplifting and emotional. Young Fathers have always spoken from the heart, but this album might show this the most.
Anenon – Tongue, Czarface/MF Doom – Czarface Meets Metal Face, Lucy Dacus – Historian, Django Django – Marble Skies, Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending, Gogo Penguin – A Humdrum Star, Hovvdy – Cranberry, Natalia Lafourcades – Musas Vol. 2, Nap Eyes – I’m Bad Now, The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment, Ought – Room Inside The World, Polica/Stargaze – Music for the Long Emergency, Jeff Rosenstock – POST-, Shopping – The Official Body, Anna Von Hausswolf – Dead Magic
You can follow Andrew on Twitter.