Quaterfaves: Jan-Mar ’17

quarterfaves17jan-mar

(This was a regular feature on the previous blog, and though it certainly falls into the “check this out!” category of music writing, it’s one I’d like to continue. It’s a quarterly round-up of my favourite recent releases, with an emphasis on those which are more likely to have slipped under the radar.)

Jasper Lee – Mirror of Wind

This is the best record that no one is talking about. Chamber pop meets jazz guitar meets esoteric film music meets… What is this record? I have no idea. Lee even makes his own instruments, with exotic sounding names like the ‘pyraharp’, which looks like this. There’s a tropical, swampy vibe hanging over the whole thing, belying his involvement in Them Natives. Just listen to it already.

PC Worship – Buried Wish

Abandoned spaces, junkyards, outsider art environments: these are the spiritual homes of this warped guitar music. The PCs being worshipped are piled up in a trash heap of plastic casing, cracked screens and wires. (Everyone is on their tablets.) It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a rock record this much. There’s the obvious appeal of a squawky, clanging number like ‘Blank Touch’, or the catchy, White Denim-esque ‘Rivers Running Sideways’, but some of the best stuff is hidden in the back half: warbly, uncertain compositions like ‘Flowers & Hunting’ and ‘Moons’, which sounds like something off an old Liars record.

Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness

Whispered late at night. Its instrumentals are all dreamy caverns to get lost in, but it provides a guide from its beguiling beginning: follow my voice.

Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens

Been waiting for this for a while, and it doesn’t disappoint, though it’s a difficult record to fully grasp. No matter how much you turn up the volume, it feels too quiet. Quietness is built into it by design. You can never quite hear it clearly, as though it doesn’t want to be tied down or caught. Something like a chorus comes along unexpectedly in Jenny Hval collaboration ‘Anxi’, but then isn’t returned to; it slips away and escapes in a broken cascade of beats. ‘Lucid’ risks repeating its chorus, but its heavy reverb dissolves it before you can catch it anyway. But then, reverb heavy vocals are easy to make diffuse; that she manages to make the pattering hi-hats and bright flickers of synths at the end of the song feel the same is cleverer. Things start to build with the house-y thump of ‘Evolution’, and climax in the extended clatter of ‘8’ (an infinity sign turned on its side?), but it still all feels oddly shrouded in mist. And yet it is never vague, either. It refuses to be remembered, but also refuses to be forgotten.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Tourist

The hugely underrated songwriter Alec Ounsworth returns with another record full of unfussily strange songs. Lead single ‘Fireproof’ layers insistent, squiggly guitar hook on top of insistent, squiggly guitar hook. ‘Unfolding Above Celibate Moon’ is both carnivalesque and celestial at the same time. ‘Better Off’ climaxes with one of his classic one-note vocal hooks. ‘The Pilot’ and ‘Loose Ends’ are wistful and longing. As on previous album Only Run, this feels like a second, more grown-up period for CYHSY, less wacky and unpredictable than their earlier work, but also subtler and truer. Ignore the general internet narrative about this band (victims of blog hype, diminishing returns, etc. etc.); they are consistently excellent.

Jay Som – Everybody Works

Following great records by Japanese Breakfast and Mitski last year, here’s further proof that Asian-American women are currently making some of the best indie rock around. (I don’t mean to lump these artists into a ‘scene’, though they have all toured together, so there’s definitely a connection there.) I like the title, where ‘works’ can be read as both a present tense verb (sounding like a mantra, as well as a twist on a certain R.E.M. song) and a plural noun (suggesting the tracks themselves are the ‘works’, of and for and by ‘everybody’). I also like the music, which blends in elements of Broadcast and The Microphones and (as Melina Duterte has repeatedly pointed out in interviews) Carly Rae Jepson, without losing its own strong sense of identity.

Alix Hyde – Wanderings

Difficult to find much out about this release online, other than the fact that Hyde also does illustrations, which are really lovely, and accompany the music perfectly. It’s slightly too busy to be called ambient (it doesn’t quite float into the background, but holds attention) yet it does have a diffuse, difficult-to-hold-onto quality that it shares with music of that sphere. The tracks mix different elements together like George concocting his marvellous medicines, so that you never quite know what’s round the corner: vocals unexpectedly arrive ten tracks in, first in the form of a looped sample in ‘All I Want Is You’, and then some soft, plaintive singing (Hyde’s own?) in ‘Heaven’. It’s wonder-full.

Albums of the Year 2016

2016albumstrio

Here are TQR’s favourite albums of the year. Find a spotify playlist at the bottom of the post. There were, of course, many other great albums this year. Hovering just outside this top ten are Leonard Cohen’s haunting swansong You Want It Darker, Frank Ocean’s emotionally subtle suite Blonde, Kevin Morby’s brilliantly addictive Singing Saw, the surprise return of The Avalanches with Wildflower, as well as excellent releases from TQR favourites like Tim Hecker, Julianna Barwick and Lambchop. But as fine as those records are, here are the ten I’m most vouching for…

10 • KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH • EARS

ears

Much of Ears reminds me of evolution, of the fizzing, frothing, foaming soup at the beginning of time. But it also evokes human attempts to replicate evolution’s chemical concoctions, through things like the process artworks of Richard Serra and Morris Louis, or Pollock’s drips, or the randomly generated planets of No Man’s Sky. The criss-crossing wires of the Buchla synthesiser – a rare, impossibly complicated early electronic instrument, which Smith specialises in playing – look like a tangle of DNA strands, cross-pollinating and producing unexpected mutations and evolutions. Out of all these effervescent, electronic soapsuds come odd, unexpected bubbles of melody or song, often in the form of chant, as in ‘Arthropoda’ and ‘First Flight’, but sometimes in even more unexpected guises, as in what sounds like a flute appearing halfway through ‘Wetlands’, or a saxophone in ‘Rare Things Grow’. These song-bubbles sometimes resemble other artists – ‘Envelop’ reminds me of Julian Lynch, ‘Existence in the Unfurling’ of The Knife – but inevitably dissolve back into Smith’s unique potions.

9 • ANIMAL COLLECTIVE • PAINTING WITH

pw

Animal Collective’s music seems to exist well outside the zeitgeist now. It seems funny, in retrospect, that they went through a period of being popular and adored at all. Merriweather Post Pavilion, their most critically-praised album, is just as weird, overstuffed, chaotic and repetitive to these ears as the extreme high-and-low frequencies of Here Comes the Indian (long before it) or the demented kid’s TV themes of Painting With (long after it). My point is, they’ve always made music for outsiders, for weirdos. They like to play with things that teeter on the verge of annoying: meowing like kittens on ‘Leaf House’ from Sung Tongs, repeatedly dismantling, in a discordant clash, the gorgeous swells of ‘Daffy Duck’ from Feels. On the verge of annoying but, for me, never quite tipping into it: that’s what makes them thrilling. Painting With is much the same: the repeated trick of Lennox and Portner alternating each syllable of the vocal lines, the squelchy, rubbery synth sounds that you feel in your body, the ‘Wipeout’ laugh and snatches of Golden Girls dialogue flitting around in the mix. You either love this stuff or hate it. The criticism that such playfulness is childish is surely offset by the lyrics, which read as humble attempts at tackling serious subject matter: the environment, gender, the internet. And just as previous albums have had their own distinct sense of landscape (a treehouse for Sung Tongs, a campfire for Campfire Songs) these feel like Florida songs, the sounds repeatedly recalling the state’s mangrove swamps, as when the last word of “so many ways” on ‘Hocus Pocus’ seems to melt in the heat. “Floridada, floridada…”

8 • JESSY LANZA • OH NO

jessylanza

This is infectious pop music, with an instrumental backdrop that is somehow both minimalist and stark, yet hugely varied in terms of its influences. Everything is polished and sharp and glittering, doing lots with little. Take ‘It Means I Love You’, which starts out with a house-y kick drum and some South African-sounding tabla, before drums straight out of a Chicago footwork track come in. And yet despite its variety of rhythms, the track is never cluttered, with Lanza’s hook cutting through everything like a knife through silk: “when you look into my eyes boy, it means I love you”. That seems a pretty strange thing to say: when you look at me, it means I love you. Does the singer just want someone to pay attention to them? Desire is perhaps the key theme here, treated subtly and complexly throughout. Her voice is also great throughout: I love the way it hiccups on the hook of ‘Going Somewhere’, the way it seductively draws you in on ‘New Ogi’ and then dismissively shrugs you off (“I say it to your face but it doesn’t mean a thing, no!”) on ‘VW Violence’. And yet, with characteristic subtlety, that last line could equally be read as insecure: as the singer worrying about being ignored. These moments of looking, of eye contact, appear throughout (“don’t look when you talk to me”) and always have an emotional tug to them. Also, great songs for dancing round the kitchen to.

7 • RADIOHEAD • A MOON SHAPED POOL

moonshapedpool

I already wrote a whole post about this, so don’t want to add too much here. It’s Radiohead. It has ‘True Love Waits’ on it, an absolutely gorgeous, heartbreakingly sad version of ‘True Love Waits’ on it. It’s very good.

6 • DAVID BOWIE • BLACKSTAR

blackstarA record which hung over the whole year, “at the centre of it all”. A final, burning goodbye, “in the villa of amen”. Indelibly linked, of course, to Bowie’s death just a few days after its release. He knew he was dying, he kept it a secret from almost everyone, and he channelled that secret knowledge into a record which looks death squarely in the face, a record which is ready for death, which dances with it. A record which is fierce in its experimentation, forward-thinking where one might expect it to be maudlin or nostalgic. Honestly, I can’t get over that title track. It’s by turns eerie and sad and funky and transcendent. And then ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore’ comes rumbling out the gate, consisting for more almost a minute of nothing more than an insistent drum beat and some odd flecks of sax and noise. “Man, she punched me like a dude!” Oh, Bowie. You can’t give everything away, but you gave us this.

5 • A TRIBE CALLED QUEST • WE GOT IT FROM HERE… THANK YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE

atcq

Who knew we needed the Tribe back so badly? Hearing lead track ‘We the People’ for the first time was revelatory. Of all the comebacks this year, the Tribe’s felt like the most necessary. That instantly classic chorus – “all you black folks, you must go; all you Mexicans, you must go…” – will remind us for years to come of what it was like to be alive in this horrible year. Yet music like this is one potential antidote: ‘The Donald’ doubles as both a tribute to member Phife Dawg, who died from diabetes this year, and (without ever explicitly acknowledging it) a counter-narrative to another Donald trying to build his own self-aggrandising legend. The album somehow feels simultaneously like classic 90s ATCQ (IMW is a huge Low End Theory fan) and yet also completely current and relevant and necessary. Everyone is on top form, musically, vocally, lyrically. Like Wildflower by The Avalanches, it is startling that this album exists at all, and even more startling that it’s actually any good. But where Wildflower inevitably feels a little nostalgic, this feels bang up-to-date. Apparently, despite the large number of guests – Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, Jack White – everything here was recorded in the same room, in Q-Tip’s house. You can feel that spirit of togetherness throughout. It feels much needed.

4 • IAN WILLIAM CRAIG • CENTRES

centres

Like Lambchop’s Flotus, Craig uses vocal processing here in genuinely unexpected and creative ways. The record is bookended by two equally vital versions of the same song, ‘Contain’. The opening ‘Astoria Version’ sputters into life with a distorted drum pulse, which gives way to a distant squiggle of what sounds like the decayed corpse of a melody, something deep into one of William Basinski’s decay processes. And then Craig starts singing – in his astonishing, operatically trained voice – through heavy auto-tune. It’s unexpected even a dozen listens in and yet, as the song builds and builds into a ten-minute waterfall of noise and drone, it begins to make sense. Equally captivating, and equally unexpected after the hour-plus of experimental ambient music that has preceded it, is the closing ‘Cedar Version’, a tender, lo-fi ballad with strummed acoustic guitar. I guess expectations are all about context. Between those two bookends, the record dissolves into all kinds of shreds of emotive texture and tone. It is an album which uses the language of ambient music – that is, essentially, background music – in such a way that it utterly absorbs attention while listening. I don’t move, I just listen.

3 • ELZA SOARES • A MULHER DO FIM DO MUNDO

elzasoaresA record made by a woman with more life and grit and chutzpah than most artists a quarter of her age. A samba record that sounds nothing like you’d expect a samba record to sound like. A record by a 79-year old with a song called ‘Pra Fuder’, translation: ‘To Fuck’. A record which, like Beyonce’s and Solange’s, explored what it means to be a black woman in 2016. A record carried by incredible musicianship, but even more by that incredible, malleable, all natural force of Soares’s voice, a voice which, like Leonard Cohen’s on You Want It Darker, has gained layer upon layer of complexity and character as it has aged. A record which opened and closed with the raw acapella power of that voice. A record by a woman at the end of the world, do fim do mundo.

2 • NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS • SKELETON TREE

skeletontree

It just starts. Thwack: you’re hit with a wall of texture. These are songs built on what sound like great slabs of texture, cross-cuts through the surface of the earth, layers of sediment packed on top of each other, millions of years of accrual. And atop these huge, rich slices of instrumentation, mixed well above them like the voice of God, is Cave’s gravelly spoken poetry. It is impossible not to be moved by these songs – it is some of the darkest and most pain-wracked music I’ve ever heard. “You’re a young man waking covered in blood that isn’t yours.” Is that an image of birth, or death? Impossible to know. I’m trying not to mention Cave’s son’s death, but it is impossible – though much of this music was written beforehand, that horrible event has inevitably seeped its way into the album. The whole thing is a desperate prayer: “with my voice, I am calling you” goes the first track; “I called out, I called out, right across the sea” goes the last. The first five songs are overwhelmingly dark, almost hopeless, but cracks of light do appear towards the record’s end. Yet I almost find these songs – ‘I Need You’, ‘Distant Sky’ – even more difficult to listen to, the sound of a man trying to escape from his pain. And then, the soft catharsis (a strange oxymoron, but I don’t know how else to put it) of the closing title track: breath-taking.

1 • ANNA MEREDITH • VARMINTS

varmintsOpening with the astonishing alarm call that is ‘Nautilus’, everything about this album is surprising, thrilling, and constantly catches you off guard. Example: the opening track builds and builds, horns and synths locked in an increasingly intense battle in the air, and then finally, finally, almost three and a half minutes in, the drums kick in, and they seem to slow the track down. How does she do that? Like many others on this list, Meredith combines apparently disparate influences into something startling and new: classical, dance, pop, guitar rock, experimental noise, ambient. It’s all here, and yet it somehow (to use an old cliché) adds to more than the sum of its parts. My appreciation of this music deepened enormously after seeing it performed live in September: her joy in performing was palpable, and the musicianship involved in actually making this cacophony of sound was astonishing. Though there is certainly sadness and uncertainty and anxiety in this music – as on the yearning ‘Scrimshaw’, the pent up nervousness in ‘R-Type’, the freaked-out sideways-glancing of ‘The Vapours’ – the album repeatedly arrives at small moments of hope. It refuses to give up that little spark of hopefulness. In a year in which so many tongues were occupied with lies and slander and hate speech, in which overt racism and sexism has become more acceptable and widespread, in which many people preferred to make bitter jokes and snap judgements rather than trying to understand opposite points of view, Varmints dares us instead to “say something helpful”. And I think that is why I liked this record more than any other this year. I found it helpful. I found listening to it helpful. It was a light among so much darkness.

Quarterfaves: Jul-Sep

quarterfaves-julaugsep16

It’s been rather quiet here of late in the icy waters of IMW, but here are a few things that have swum by and caught my attention. Non-exhaustive, in no particular order. Notably missing men with names like Frank and Nick, because you’ve read plenty about them already, great as they are. Also missing that sweet new Avalanches record, which I wrote about last month.

THE GASLAMP KILLER • INSTRUMENTALEPATHY

Much of the music here – indeed much of the great music of this year, from David Bowie to Nick Cave – is haunted by the spectre of death. William Bensussen made most of this record while recovering from a scooter accident which nearly killed him. It fits, then, into a mini-genre, the ‘hospital bed opus’, the most famous example of which would be J Dilla’s masterpiece, Donuts. But the mood of this is very different – for a start, Gaslamp’s record is a process of recovery, rather than a final bright burn like Dilla’s was. I first heard Gaslamp through his work on Gonjasufi’s still-excellent record A Sufi and A Killer, back in 2010. (Gonjasufi also dropped a new record this year, Callus, in August). This has all the weirdness of that record, but without the gravelly earthiness that comes from Sumach Ecks’s voice; it is spacier, dreamier, a voyage through the disoriented mind of someone recovering from trauma.

JENNY HVAL • BLOOD BITCH

Hval is always intriguing, lacing her haunting songs with political undertones. In a dark tent, its canopy covered in stars, I watched her pour a jug of water over someone’s head, the throb of ‘Female Vampire’ filling the space. Surreal. Any attempt to pin her down is probably futile. This is something of a concept album about vampires and menstruation. I think. Still unpicking. I first discovered her work on the truly stunning Meshes of Voice, her 2014 collaborative album with Susanna. This is more song-based than that work, but similar in its treading the line between unsettling and beautiful.

ELZA SOARES • A MULHER DO FIM DO MUNDO

With a title meaning ‘The Woman at the End of the World’, this is the post-apocalyptic sound of sambo sujo, or ‘dirty samba’: experimental, raw, ravaged by the scraps and scrapes of other genres, from jazz to rock to noise. Soares is new to me, but she’s apparently famous in Brazil as a voice of the under-represented, particularly black and gay women. Her voice is a force to be reckoned with, and the music sounds utterly vital.

CASS McCOMBS • MANGY LOVE

Every album Cass makes has at least one perfect song: a ‘You Saved My Life’, a ‘County Line’, a ‘Morning Star’. This time it’s ‘Medusa’s Outhouse’, one of the saddest he’s ever made. Cass pleads in a pained falsetto to ‘forget what hasn’t happened yet’, the music languid and longing. Halfway in and synths buzz through the mix like demented insects, the song shifting into an odd spoken word plea – ‘if it’s so easy, you try’ – before slide guitar comes in to rub salve into the wound. The two play off each other for the rest of the song. Elsewhere, the songs are by turns sad and hopeful, sweet and bitter, funny and serious.

BAT FOR LASHES • THE BRIDE

Another concept album, this one about a bride whose husband-to-be dies on the way to the alter. A few months ago I got engaged, so all this wedding malarkey is somewhat on my mind. The record is heavy on the ballads, and is carried, all the way through, by Natasha Khan’s incredible, malleable voice. Watching her perform this at End of the Road festival, wearing white, with candlelight flickering on the stage and her band all dressed up in wedding outfits, was truly spellbinding.

RYLEY WALKER • GOLDEN SINGS THAT HAVE BEEN SUNG

Hot on the heels of last year’s excellent and timeless Primrose Green comes another record that sounds dug up from a lost era. It’s all slow burning summer jams and fingerpicked grooves, warm and smoky and mellow. Odd grammar in the title, as does…

HIEROGLYPHIC BEING • THE DISCO’S OF IMHOTEP

The disco is of Imhotep – that odd punctuation. As though the disco, wherever it crops up its head, belongs to him: ‘the one who comes in peace’, the earliest known architect, engineer and physician in history. His structures now collapsing in fractured splinters of techno. Libations poured out to him from water jugs. Again with the poured water.

KLARA LEWIS • TOO

Music for between the hours of 0.00 and 4.00. Techno whispered to you in the dark – it reminds me, more than anyone, of Grouper, in its intimacy. Its melodies are blurry phantoms slinking through the corners of your eyelids.

Quarterfaves: Apr-Jun

quarterfaves aprjun16

It’s been a great few months for music, even if it’s been a pretty terrible few months in most other respects. But in dark times, music can be healing, can remind us of our differences, and how we need to respect those differences, rather than letting them divide us. The world is a multitude of wonders, a melting pot. No government or referendum can take that world away from us.

No need to recap my love for the new Radiohead, which (surprise, surprise) was my most listened-to gem from the last quarter. So here’s ten others, all excellent, all worth your time. (There are also new releases this week from Bat for Lashes and Blood Orange, which I’m looking forward to delving into.)

Anyway. Dive in and listen, listen, listen.

KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH • EARS

Aha, yes, ears. You’re aware, listening to this, of sound being something that exists, physically, in your ears. It’s like a living sculpture being made and remade between the eardrums: bubbling and smouldering and erupting. Chemicals reacting, liquids evaporating. Sound, even when it’s synthesised, is always an organic thing as it enters the ears, a process in the brain.

KEVIN MORBY • SINGING SAW

A great spring or early summer record. Although also very timeless. Although also very 60s: it’s impossible not to hear Dylan in here, much like in Amen Dunes. It’s something about the voice, the same cadences in all three singers. The song-writing is ace throughout, particularly ‘Black Flowers’ and the title track. He used to play bass for the band Woods; their new album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, is also excellent, and well worth checking out.

CATE LE BON • CRAB DAY

Again I just love the melodies and the song-writing. She’s a true Welsh eccentric. Her last record, Mug Museum, was Bradford Cox’s favourite of 2013, which is what put me onto her. This is maybe even better. “Love is not love when it’s a coathanger”.

JESSY LANZA • OH NO

Addictive. It’s very poppy and catchy and infectious, but it also has this strong footwork dimension to it, all these influences coming from the underground techno made by her label-mates on Hyperdub. Also her voice is kind of playful and sad at the same time – she mines ambivalent veins of emotion. Great stuff.

SEIHO • COLLAPSE

Amazing sounds. Close your eyes and listen through good headphones. Collapse your mind, unfold it like a map to somewhere new.

TIM HECKER • LOVE STREAMS

Love that title, which offers at least half a dozen ways of reading it. Is ‘love’ a noun or a verb? Is ‘streams’ a noun or a verb? If a noun, is it natural or digital streams, or the act of streaming, or some other kind of stream? Love streaming from the body? Streams made of love? A love of streams? A love of streams of made of love? (The music is excellent, too, of course; Hecker is the absolute master of noise).

JULIANNA BARWICK • WILL

I have a phrase in my notebook: “songs sung by the shore heard from the dunes.”

DAMIEN JURADO • VISIONS OF US ON THE LAND

This actually came out in March, but then so what? It’s the kind of big, dense, ambitious album that one gets to know over a number of years, not a number of weeks. Seventeen tracks long, it’s a post-apocalyptic concept album, the third in a trilogy, which together tell a single, complex story. A lot left to uncover in this one. Love that cover art, too.

JAPANESE BREAKFAST • PSYCHOPOMP

It’s the kind of thing that just instantly appeals to me: lo-fi, heartfelt, with great songs. Short and sweet, at 25 minutes. But not simple. There’s a lot of instruments, a lot of layers. It’s ambitious, it pushes against its sonic confines.

DEAKIN • SLEEP CYCLE

Some had been waiting a long, long time for this, the debut solo album from Animal Collective member Josh. Luckily it doesn’t disappoint. It’s the best thing to come out of the Animal Collective camp for ages. It’s brilliant.

Quarterfaves: Jan-Mar

jan-mar

So I hadn’t really intended for IMW to be a ‘music discovery’ blog, as such; rather I think of it more as a place for reflections, experiments in music writing, and plenty of digressions and tangents. But I thought, as a bit of a recurring feature, I might post every three months or so about some recent music I’ve enjoyed, a quarterly update on current listening, a few recommendations of recent releases I think are worth checking out. So that’s what this is. Here goes…

ANNA MEREDITH • VARMINTS

This is probably the most interesting record I’ve heard so far this year. It’s a bit all over the place: very experimental and electronic one moment, classical the next, then suddenly making a hard left turn into some very poppy territory. Some of it is just incredible. Other parts puzzle me. Somehow it sort of all hangs together. Sort of. Just about. It’s really worth a listen.

CRATER • TALK TO ME SO I CAN FALL ASLEEP

This is really good electro pop with a kind of industrial bent to it. I love the lyrics to the opening track, ‘Crater Head’, an early contender for song of the year. They barely coalesce into whole sentences but hint at something of the lonely black hole a long night on the internet can become: words billow through the thick mist, phrases like ‘speak perfectly’ and ‘stalking endlessly’ and ‘break-up sex’ and the album title itself, which is the central line in the song. The whole thing is lit in the blue glow of a smartphone in a dark room.

The video for the song, meanwhile, is the perfect counterpoint to it – a beautifully choreographed dance, all physicality and connection. The contrast is wonderful. Watch below.

ANNA HOMLER AND STEVE MOSHIER • BREADWOMAN & OTHER TALES

This is actually a reissue, collecting various recordings made by the pair in L.A. in the 1980s, and it’s a pretty unique-sounding collaboration. To me it sounds like very, very ancient music. There’s some kind of quasi-mythical character at the centre of it, the titular Breadwoman, but to be honest the sounds themselves are strange enough and the story isn’t needed. The whole thing feels very DIY, very out-there. It’s definitely worth a listen.

CROSS RECORD • WABI-SABI

Sticking with an ancient, elemental vibe is this dark take on dream pop. I like how Paste described it: ‘not so much post-rock as pre-rock’. Recorded on a Texas ranch, in the rather wonderfully-named Dripping Springs, where according to the town’s website they have a swimming hole and something called the ‘annual tomato round up’. Wabi-Sabi is apparently a Japanese term for the acceptance of imperfection. The songs, too, are perfectly imperfect – they crackle and break in all sorts of interesting, unexpected ways.

MATMOS • ULTIMATE CARE II

It’s a record made entirely from the sounds of a single washing machine. If that isn’t enough to make you want to listen, well, I can’t do anymore to help.

QUILT • PLAZA

Laid-back psych-y sounds, a bit Beatles-y at points – not a million miles away from bands like Real Estate and Woods. Also, parts of the verses in ‘Roller’ remind me of the Bangles! This is a good thing!

MARY LATTIMORE • AT THE DAM

Finally, this is still the most straight-up beautiful record I’ve heard so far this year. I blogged a little bit about it already but wanted to stress again just how good it is. The music does the talking for itself, really, and there’s not a lot more I can add.

UPDATE: Here’s a Spotify playlist with some of these tunes and a few added bonuses!