Automatic, the synth-pop trio of Izzy Glaudini (synths, lead vocals), Lola Dompé (drums, vocals) and Halle Saxon-Gaines (bass) have shared new single “Skyscraper” from their upcoming second album Excess, set to be released on June 24th via Stones Throw. Pre-order here.
Searing synth lines and a head-bop beat drive this track to summer festival worthy groovy heights. You feel as if you’re living inside a 90’s movie, having just bought the latest model of Buggati and are driving down a desert road. Which only fits with the narrative that the band provide, with Halle explaining, “It’s about spending your life making money and then spending it to fill the void created by said job.” Lola adds: “Kind of like going to LA to live your dreams.” It’s flashy and sleek and will certainly get you out of your seat.
Listen to the new single below!
AUTOMATIC TOUR DATES
US (with Tame Impala)
May 24 NC Wilmington Live Oak Bank Pavilion May 26 OH Columbus KEMBA Live! Festival Stage
UK & EUROPE
May 28 UK London Wide Awake May 29 UK Manchester YES May 30 UK Leeds Headrow House May 31 UK Brighton Green Door Store June 1 FR Lille L’Aéronef June 2 FR Paris L’international June 3 FR Angers Levitation June 4 ES Barcelona Primavera June 5 ES Barcelona Primavera June 8 IT Ravenna Beaches Brew June 9 CH Neuchatel Festineuch June 10 CH Aarau Kiff June 11 DE Mannheim Maifeld Derbi June 12 NL Hilvarenbeek Best Kept Secret June 13 NL Amsterdam Bitterzoet June 14 NL Nijmegen Merleyn June 15 DE Berlin UFO Sound Studios June 16 DE Koln Bumann & Sohn June 17 BE Charleroi Fete De La Musique June 18 NL Den Haag Grauzone
US (with Osees)
Sept 5 San Francisco Chapel Sept 6 San Francisco Chapel Sept 7 San Francisco Chapel Sept 9 Portland Roseland Sept 10 Seattle Neumos Sept 11 Seattle Neumos
POND have shared new single “Pink Lunettes” along with an accompanying visualiser directed by Jamie Terry. This is the Australian psych-rock/ pop outfits first single since their 2019 album Tasmania.
The new single sees the band take a more electro-pop disco approach to their sound, moving away from the synth rock style of Tasmania and The Weather. It’s groovy, hypnotic and has a comical undertone as Allbrook sings “Suck your mothers face” over one chorus.
Speaking on the new single frontman Nicholas Allbrook said
“I think we managed to jitter along the neon tightrope between totally unhinged, strobing spontaneity and focused forward momentum,”
Tame Impala have shared a new mini-documentary “InnerSpeaker Memories” documenting the recording sessions for their critically acclaimed 2010 debut album InnerSpeaker. This comes as they release the InnerSpeaker 10th anniversary boxset, which features a collage of album sketches, an unearthed, side-long jam, new mixes of tracks off the original album, instrumentals and a deluxe 40-page booklet. Order here.
The 15-minute short was filmed in Injidup, Western Australia by Matt Sav and edited by Alex Haygarth. It contains never-before-seen footage from the recording of the album which helped propel Kevin Parker to international renown.
The one thing that has kept all us going this year is the amount of incredible music that has continued to flow out of every part of the musical spectrum. There’s been some truly incredible releases over the past twelve months, and we are forever grateful for every artist that has released music to keep us going through these truly wild times. With that said, we’ve narrowed down what we believe is the absolute best of the best of this year, it was no easy task, but to us this is the music that truly stood above the rest.
30. Armand Hammer – Shrines
Surely album cover of the year. This, their fourth album, reflects the angst and anger felt by many. Somehow they still come out sounding quite positive.
— Barry Tucker
29. Tony Bontana – Di-Splay
Witnessing an artist at their dawn is never always easy. However since Bontana’s existence in the musical world, his debut album only capitalises on his extremely concise and evocative musicianship. Di-Splay shows Bontana coming into his own, the album includes a great deal of features that highlights the extreme amount of talent that Bontana is amongst and works with. Godspeed to Tony.
— David Tucker
28. Hachiku – I’ll Probably Be Asleep
Anika Ostendorf releases her long awaited debut album, and her sound has never been fresher. Combining elements of dream-pop, shoegaze and indie rock, Ostendorf has created an album that’s as assured in its delivery as it is as catchy in its grooves. Recorded mostly by just Ostendorf herself “in whatever bedroom she was currently inhabiting” according to her Bandcamp bio, but this only adds to the raw and emotive sound she captures on this album. It’s the almost ultimate lockdown album, touching on themes of becoming grounded and accepting where your life is in the moment, except it was written over the course of the last two years. Perhaps Ostendorf knows more than we do? Either way one thing we know is that we have spent hours getting lost in the swaying sounds of this fantastic debut.
— James Pearson
27. Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2
Back for their second collaboration since 2015’s Innocent Country. It’s full of mellow tunes delivered in Quelle’s laid back style. Quelle says the theme of the album is peace. Not a bad shout.
— Barry Tucker
26. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
Full of soul, love and a huge helping of natural talent, Lianne La Havas’ latest album is rightly self titled. This album is La Havas through and through. Incredible vocal performances, woozy and dreamy songwriting and an abundance of confidence. Featuring one the most intoxicating riffs in the form of “Can’t Fight” that we named as one of the best songs of the year. And a truly mesmerising cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” that’ll leave you in utter awe at just how much new depth La Havas brings to this track, just listen to that vocal rise towards the end of the song.
Dan Snaith returns with a more lowkey follow up to 2014’s Our Love, but his extreme craftsmanship and attention to detail remains prominent throughout. Manipulating sounds at his will, to create some of the most heartbreaking whilst simultaneously dance hall worthy beats yet. Acting as a retrospective on his relationship with others and his self, the majestry of this album lies within its ability to be raw whilst being full of joy all at the same time. “Never Come Back” is the perfect example of this, as Snaith looks back at the fallout of a breakup, backed by a highly intoxicating groove. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year.
— James Pearson
24. Ulla – Tumbling Towards A Wall
To witness an album so effectively dissolve music to its natural organic roots has never been so beautiful to witness. Sound moves in organic movement, tonal sounds trickle and slide through polyrhythmic trajectories. Ulla Straus composes each of the tracks with a keen eye for satisfaction. Sounds sustain before crumbling and swinging forming clusters. Listening to this album is the pure definition of chaotic beauty. Understanding a collective movement of all parts forming a complete whole.
— David Tucker
23. Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
Mike Hadreas follows up 2017’s No Shape with an album that shifts and twists through various styles of pop, shoegaze, country and industrial rock. Yet in each field of sound Hadreas has never sounded as confident as on this album. The one thing that binds all these varying sounds and moods together is Hadreas phenomenal vocal performance. He consistently pushes himself to see how intimate and simultaneously vibrant as he can get. There’s also room for one of the best alternative pop songs of this year in the form of “On The Floor” that has such a fantastic groove, melody and chorus that it’ll have you on the floor, either from dancing too much to it or reading deep into the lyrics.
On their debut album, Off The Meds define their sound with a huge collection of absolute bangers. From start to finish the album contains addictive rhythms and lyrics that will keep you driven and motivated. The creativity of the sound being put into each of the tracks is so refreshing whilst making the tracks so much more enjoyable. Dance music at its finest!
— David Tucker
21. Bdrmm – Bedroom
It’s easy these days for any band with a reverb pedal and overdriven guitars to be classed as “somewhat shoegaze”. However there’s a feeling that needs to be captured when creating this music, and on debut album Bedroom, bdrmm define this mood to a T. Searing soundscapes, hard hitting riffs and lyrics that speak on themes of self-acceptance, anxiety and the disparity of youth. Their influences are clear, but the delivery matches that of many of the shoegaze greats.
One of the most assured and confident debut albums released this year from Bristol based country, folk, indie singer-songwriter Katy J Pearson. There’s not a moment on this album that feels wasted or half-arsed as Pearson delivers one heartfelt ballad after another. There’s also a some truly captivating songwriting and storytelling layered within each song, just look at opener “Tonight”. But there’s also some fantastically groovy pop bangers within, such as “Take Back The Radio”, which we named as one of the best songs of the year. Pearson has finally declared herself as a modern country queen and we hope her reign is long and joyous.
Archie Marshall’s bleak and blissful songwriting continues to be ever enchanting on third album Man Alive!. On The OOZ Marshall created a world for the listener to inhabit, but this time around he’s taken a look at the world around him, pondering questions of what the hell is going on? Through jazzy instrumentation and hazy soundscapes Marshall returns with perhaps his most succinct project to date, refining his sound to its purest elements. There’s also deep amounts of raw emotion laid bare on this album, from the isolation inspired “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” to the dreary ballad of “Perfecto Miserable”, Marshall is at his most vulnerable. Through all the despair and depression that’s infused within this album there’s also an underlying sense of hope, that things might just get better if we try. The blissful serenity sign off on closer “Please Complete Thee” is an embodiment of just that.
Ana Roxanne has an incredible ability to transport you to a plain of absolute tranquility through her deeply meditative and evoking ambient music. As she intertwines elements of nature within her songs she allows you to reconnect with the world around you, realising its true beauty. Even just the simple mellotron arpeggio of “- – -” can take you back to memories and places you thought had long been forgotten. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year. The cover may be just a simple white sleeve, but within there’s so much more colour and vibrancy that can only be truly appreciated when you dive deep into the sounds.
Pink Siifu released NEGRO this year, a very angry and noisy album. In contrast, this collab sounds fresh and relaxed, and with its huge number of amazing contributors (Madlib and liv.e to name two), reflects much of their musical heritage, but is firmly a modern hiphop classic.
— Barry Tucker
16. I Break Horses – Warnings
A truly magical journey of dream-pop, carried by Maria Lindën’s dreamy vocals. Built out of Lindën re-imaging the soundtracks to classic films she was watching, Warnings is one of those hidden gems that just makes you stop when you first hear it. Infusing elements of 80’s pop and alternative electronic music, this album is as colourful as it is expansive. It’s easy to get lost in the many layered soundscapes that Lindën beautifully crafts, just look at opener “Turn”. Just over 9 minutes long and yet over that course it consistently moves and travels within itself, taking you along with it on a cloud of pure bliss.
The more brutal and bloody follow up to 2019’s There Existed An Addiction To Blood sees Daveed Diggs and co. create a true horror movie within an album. The flow and rhythm of Diggs’ deeply descriptive and potent storytelling is largely unrivalled. The production of this album is also a feat within itself, fusing elements of hip-hop, industrial metal and noise rock to make a sound that is as harsh as it is captivating, drawing you in with every listen. “Say The Name” is a perfect example of this as the ending descends into all out twisted chaos. Sequels always have the immense task of becoming bigger than the original, and Visions Of Bodies Being Burned does just that, with an unchallenged cool. There’s also an incredible amount of perfectly placed and effective features from the likes of Cam & China, Ho99o9 and Sickness.
— James Pearson
14. Adrianne Lenker – Songs And Instrumentals
After Big Thief’s tour at the start of the year was cut short, Adrianne Lenker returned back to Massachusetts, rented a small cabin and said she would give herself a break from working. The exact opposite of that happened and the result of Lenker’s itching desire to write is Songs And Instrumentals. Recorded entirely through its entire process on analogue equipment, this album is intimacy defined to its core. The glistening guitars and floating melodies of “Anything” is enough to make anyone believe that they can find love. Lenker is at one with nature on this album and through the natural recording techniques and bird sounds placed throughout she perfectly captures that feeling of getting back to simplicity.
What a year for SAULT! Releasing their 3rd and 4th albums of soul with jazz, hiphop and Afrobeat tweaks. Inflo and Cleo Sol (whose solo album is also very good) have made tunes that in these difficult times, need to be heard.
— Barry Tucker
12. Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
Charli XCX continues her incredible run of powerful future pop albums with her latest How I’m Feeling Now, an album written and created entirely during lockdown. It’s not only a showcase of Charli’s incredible songwriting talent, but her never diminishing work ethic. Packed full of bangers and dance-floor anthems that capture the desire we all have to simply be around people again. Opener “Pink Diamond” is an ode to the club and that feeling of joy from being within a big crowd where the only feeling that is going round is just pure joy. Produced in part by Dylan Brady, one half of hyper-pop masterminds 100 gecs, this album also features some clear cut production, almost feeling as if you’re inside a vacuum as every sound is pulled front and centre. The ultimate lockdown album shows just what can be done within the limitations of home.
— James Pearson
11. HMLTD – West Of Eden
The ethos of HMLTD is to never create two songs that sound the same, and boy is this album packed full of variety. From spaghetti western ballads, to post punk ragers to the text to speech Japanese glitch pop “Why?”, this album has it all. But just because the style changes that doesn’t mean the quality does. Each song is full of so much bravado that it’s enticing to try and guess where they will be going next. This album certainly packs a punch, just listen to the bass line of “LOADED”, whilst also being heartfelt and full of earnest on the 80’s pop ballad anthem “Mikey’s Song”. Read here why we named it one of the best songs of the year. A commentary on the disparity of modern civilisation, whilst also offering hope that we can start anew, this is certainly a capsule of modern life distilled into a downright joyously crafted album.
— James Pearson
10. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
The latest outing from Gibbs shows him team up with long time master producer Alchemist. Gibbs is an absolute professional when it comes to story telling. The way that messages and narratives are put together are a mix between humorous and sobering. This album yet again defines Gibbs as one of the most important artists of out generation. Alchemist provides the perfect landscape for an 80s film that Gibbs narrates.
— David Tucker
9. Nothing – The Great Dismal
There might not be a better representation of the bleakness that many of us have felt this year than The Great Dismal. Cathartic and devastating is the sound that encompasses the Philly band’s fourth studio album. Inspired by the images that emerged of a black hole, the band paints truly disturbing scenes both with their lyricism and sonic explosions. Touching on themes of isolation, extinction and human behaviour, the band have soundtracked, almost unknowingly the mood and collective feeling of this year. This album feels like it’s constantly trying to burst out of it’s soundscapes whilst simultaneously sucking you in to a great void of nothing. They have taken their already devastating sound and expanded it out into new and vibrant directions.
The debut from Rina Sawayama is truly enticing, showcasing her ability to blend and fuse genre’s and sounds through her extremely powerful vocal performances. Just look at the Marxist anthem of “XS” as the power pop verse’s crash into the chorus with the overdrive infused descending metal guitar lines. There’s also perhaps one of the best vocal performances of the year on opener “Dynasty” as Sawayama matches the swirling lead guitar line note for note, leaving you truly awestruck. Throughout its runtime this album never slows down, consistently offering new and exciting ideas that showcases how much of a natural talent Sawayama has. It’s like a festival where Sawayama is fronting every band. As far as debut’s go they don’t get much better than this. We’ll be keenly watching to see what Sawayama comes up with next.
Devastatingly brutal is the sound of IDLES third album Ultra Mono. This is the band at their most refined and potent. They narrow their sonic output out to be it’s most powerful and don’t leave any room for interpretation on their political stances. From the anti-war opener “War” with its spitfire like drum solo to the behemoth bass swells of “Reigns”, IDLES have concurred the studio to create their most black and white sounding album yet, or mono if you will. But even more hard hitting than the instrumentation is lead singer Joe Talbot’s growling vocal delivery. There’s anger, fury within his voice, but it’s all driven by love. Continuing to call out the small minded government that runs this country whilst simultaneously trying to unify everyone that listens to his words. Ultra Mono is a culmination of everything IDLES have become and holds its place as one of the most explosive punk albums released this year.
The greatest aspect of Silver Ladders is Mary Lattimore’s talent for evoking memories and telling deep and flowing stories with only the pluck of her harp strings. The intricacy of the movements that Lattimore intertwines into each song takes you into a deep space of acceptance and unity with the world. These songs are perfect for a cozy night inside or a late night walk through lamplit streets. Produced by Slowdive’s Neil Halstead, there’s also aspects of shoegaze sewn throughout, which can be heard through the cascading guitars on “Til A Mermaid Drags You Under”. Further evolving Lattimore’s sound to become so full of life and subtle beauty that you feel each note gliding over you, taking you further out into the blissful cosmos she creates.
Birth. Death. Taxes. King Gizzard releasing new music. These are the constants of life as we said in our review of K.G., the 16th (!!) studio album in ten years from the genre defying band of magicians King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. And if you’re looking for a place to start in their comprehensive catalogue then there might not be a better place to start than this album. Defining and refining the eccentric elements of the bands sound to an ever changing and yet continuously flowing tracklist, the self title of the album is truly deserved. Just listen to the transition from the woozy folk ballad of “Honey” to the Black Sabbath infused closer “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate”. Also featuring the bands take on a “90’s Turkish house banger” in the form of the groovy “Intrasport”. Adding to all that, this album was recorded remotely with the members being in various lockdown’s, they really are an ever chugging well oiled machine.
— James Pearson
4. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Kevin Parker has done it again. Arriving 5 years after the heartbreak fuelled and synthesiser driven Currents, The Slow Rush sees Parker take a look back at his life and where he’s going next. Although over the years Tame Impala’s sound has gone through many phases, one thing that has remained consistent is Parker’s incredible attention to detail for creating sonic landscapes and his studio wizardry. The sound might not be as clean as Currents, but there’s still so many layers and flowing melodies to each song that you could spend a day just trying to unpack one. Parker also embraces a more disco-centric sound on “Breathe Deeper” and “Lost In Yesterday”, whilst still keeping that flair of psychedelia about them. But almost by accident Parker soundtracked a pandemic with opener “One More Year” as the vocals swirl and chant “One more year” around the soundscape. Four albums in and Parker still has that signature flair of excellence that is ever present.
— James Pearson
3. L.A. Priest – Gene
It is rare that an album is so self aware of its existence within the first four words. “Shit is fiery fire” is just about the best way to sum up Gene. The sophomore album further establishes La Priest as one of the funkiest, electrifying and downright great songwriters of the contemporary alternative scene. Each track is flooded with an abundance of beautiful noise that makes every song all the more vivid and meaningful. Instruments fizz and bubble like the pot of a magical wizard. I’m not religious, but this is one priests sermon i’ve been attending every Sunday.
The amount of beauty and sadness that Phoebe Bridgers packs into her sophomore album is unmeasurable. The stories told and their heartbreaking delivery from Bridgers help establish her as one of modern musics greatest storytellers. This is the perfect headphones in the dark album. Sonically this album also pushes Bridgers sound design to its most enticing, there’s not a moment that doesn’t make you think, how did they do that? Just listen to “Garden Song”‘ and its crunching, almost watered down guitar riff try and push out of the mix as it chugs along. And of course it wouldn’t be a Phoebe Bridgers album without a soundtrack to the apocalypse. The incredible movement from guitar ballad to all out cathartic fanfare on “I Know The End” is a true testament to not only Bridgers’ incredible song writing talent but also as a retrospective on the modern day. Read here why we named it the best song of the year.
This album has been the soundtrack to our year. Highly anticipated before its release and upon its delivery there was nothing to disappoint. This album simply gets better with every listen. Packed full of banger after banger, this is a culmination of the bands rise of the last few year as well as their incredibly intricate and subtly fierce songwriting. Casual listeners may just hear these as average “indie” songs, but there’s so much more to them than that. A certain mystique and spark of magic lies within every song, it’s hard to describe. Whether it be the almost deadpan delivery of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen’s vocal delivery, or the incredibly haunting and often uneasy soundscapes that the band creates underneath a seemingly upbeat sound. “As The Sun Sets” is a perfect example of this, read here why we named it as the second best song of the year. The title 925 is a reference to Silver 925, but for us this album is pure gold.
In a year of phenomenal music these are the songs we’ve had continuously on repeat, blasting through our headphones until we got sick of them, then fell in love with them all over again. There’s been some phenomenal displays of extreme musicianship, songwriting and studio wizardry this year, and these are the songs we feel bring all of these elements together in a perfect smoothie of sound. Yum yum in our ear drums (sorry). We’ve put them all together in one handy playlist for your listening pleasure as well which you can find here.
50. IDLES – Reigns
A showcase of IDLES new found production prowess, the huge distorted bass swells are the natural progression for a band revered for their unchallenged raw power. Reigning in their chaotic sound to it simplest form, whilst still retaining the grandeur.
49. King Krule – Alone (Omen 3)
First appearing at the end of 2019, Alone (Omen 3) came into existence by a power plant. The acoustic representation of the song would then have its second coming on the announcement of King Krule’s latest album Man Alive! In the album format, the song is a grunge absorbed slice of heaven. The track wallows in loneliness, a voice leaning over you at your lowest. Words of positivity and hope bellow across like a mantra. Guitar and voice give way to a hidden void. Archie Marshall proves himself yet again to be one of the most talented fucking humans. Don’t answer your phone, take the train and remember that you’re not alone.
48. PVA – Exhaust/ Surroundings
A showcase of the London based 3-pieces songwriting technical ability. Just as you think you know what’s coming next, the band will swerve into new challenging lanes. The switch outs from the techno club groove into blissful synthesisers and back again perfectly captures that feeling of euphoria on the dancefloor.
47. Nadia Reid – Other Side Of The Wheel
Simply put, this is a very beautiful song. As Nadia Reid embraces her acceptance of moving on from lost love she delivers a truly emotive indie folk ballad. Swirling soundscapes and a driving groove, Reid further establishes herself as one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets.
46. Overmono – Everything U Need
Evocative music is really hard to pinpoint. Everything U Need is a lesson on how emotion can be conveyed in the best way possible. Dance music with every element being lovingly treated and cared for. This is the melancholy banger that everyone wanted from this year.
45. Fiona Apple – Rack Of His
Three decades into her career and Fiona Apple isn’t ready to give away her mantle as one of indie rocks most revered stars. Reversing the misogyny often given to women around to men when she sings “Check out that rack of his, Look at that row of guitar necks”. Not only speaking from experience, but calling for all those who have also experienced the onslaught of male depreciation to speak out and find power in each other. Also featuring an off-key piano line that will climb through your mind for days to come.
44. Arlo Parks – Black Dog
This has certainly been Arlo Parks year, debut album on the way next year. One of the biggest catalysts for Parks sudden surge in attention was “Black Dog”. It’s hard to pick an element of this song that exceeds the rest as Parks’ emotionally impactful lyrics and vocal performance backed with simplistic yet moving instrumentation makes an all round heartfelt indie anthem.
43. Georgia – Never Let You Go
Confident and cool. That’s the feeling all over London based producer Georgia’s latest album and “Never Let You Go” is the pinnacle of that. Unravelling vibrant and explosive soundscapes backed with a shake-your-butt like groove culminate in one of indie pop’s best bangers this year. We can’t wait to hear this one in the club.
42. Moses Sumney – Virile
Moses Sumney transcends genre to combine his emphatic vocal performance with a hugely expansive backing track that is both hard hitting and beautiful simultaneously. As he breaks down the contradictions of masculinity Sumney seeks to find the grey area in between it all in this groove filled banger.
41. Oneohtrix Point Never – I Don’t Love Me Anymore
Daniel Lopatin can paint sounds like no other. The sound of “I Don’t Love Me Anymore” is so addictive that it’s hard to not have this track on repeat. You’ll spend half the time trying to unravel every layer of sound and unwrap the deep vocal manipulations, but all this does is allow you to appreciate how much of a talented craftsman of sound he really is.
40. Kelly Lee Owens – On
A perfect combination of flourishing dream pop and techno from singer-songwriter/ producer Kelly Lee Owens. Showcasing her studio flair and ability to bend sounds to her will, continually evolving and expanding until it reaches its hard groove filled climax.
39. Dua Lipa – Hallucinate
A straight up pop anthem. It’s no doubt that Dua Lipa has made one of this years most confident pop albums in Future Nostalgia and “Hallucinate” showcases everything noteworthy about it. Highly catchy chorus, dance floor worthy groove and a supreme vocal performance from Lipa reaffirms her as one of pop’s biggest forces to be reckoned with.
38. Sault – Hard Life
Delightfully intoxicating groove, soulful melodies and a switch up that’s full of messages of self worth, further amplifying the pseudonymous collectives continuous messaging that black lives do matter. The mysticism surrounding the project only makes it that much more enticing.
37. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Straws In The Wind
King Gizzard have always been giving a retrospective of modern times within their music but this might be their most black and white song to date on the matter. “Pandemonium, selfish pigs Headless chickens scared shitless, The media will never quit” declares singer Ambrose Kenny-Smith. Weird production aesthetics and more explorations into microtonal tuning sees the band stay as colourful as ever. Also featuring the best leaf blower solo in recorded history.
36. Bdrmm – A Reason To Celebrate
Pure shoegaze bliss. Borrowing from the founding fathers of shoegaze, bdrrm capture the explosiveness of My Bloody Valentine and melancholic joy of Slowdive to form a sound that’s as fresh as the Hull 5 piece’s faces.
35. Charli XCX – Pink Diamond
Recorded entirely during lockdown, Charli XCX’s latest album is a testament to her incredible work ethic and prolific output. Opener “Pink Diamond” is hard hitting ode to the club, that captures the longing we’ve all been feeling this year. Harsh beats, heavy hitting synths and shrink wrapped production make for yet another addition to Charli’s ever-growing list of bangers.
34. Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess
This is Angel Olsen at her most candid. Returning to a sound that was found in the early days of Halfway Home, Olsen crooning over crunchy reverbed guitars. Speaking on the feeling of constantly wondering how you’ll mess the day up, Olsen is raw in every sense of the word.
33. Ana Roxanne – —
The beauty of Ana Roxanne’s music comes from its assured ability to evoke memories you thought you’d lost forever. Put on some headphones and get ready to become lost in transcendence as the arpeggiated mellotron and emphatic ambient notes swirl and turn around in your head.
32. Axel Boman – Eyes In My Mind
Returning for a single outing, Axel Boman released Eyes Of My Mind back in April during the height of the pandemic. Being locked behind doors listening to the enchanting soothing house was a real pleasure in the abundance of sadness during this period. Eyes Of My Mind will always be seen as a reflection of hope.
31. Thundercat – I Love Louis Cole
Thundercat ventures into some his most progressive jazz yet, featuring his signature fast fingered flurried bass lines and a hard driving beat from none other than Louis Cole himself. A testament to the bassists extreme musical talent.
30. Caribou – Never Come Back
This song will make you want to dance and cry at the same time. With a deeply hypnotic groove and melody it’s sure to have your head bopping wherever you are. But dive deeper than the rich production that Dan Snaith brings once again and you see the producer/ songwriter trying to gain clarity of lost love, and whether the other person truly wanted to be there.
29. Nothing – Say Less
A brutal and chaotic chaotic soundscape that only gets denser with each listen. Guitars flailing and drums spiralling, there is a war going on within this song. Nothing have taken their already devastating sound and pushed it to new and exciting boundaries .
28. Kurt Vile – Dandelions
Kurt Vile has a supreme talent for finding true beauty in simplicity. That’s why this ode to a summers day spent playing in the flowers with his daughters is so elegantly pure and heartwarming. Each instrument and sound feels like it’s bursting out from behind a cloud, to shine light wherever it can.
27. Tame Impala – On Track
Kevin Parker’s take on a stadium ballad, sprinkled with his signature serving of flanger. As with most of Parker’s album from this the concept of time takes center stage, mainly the overarching fear that it’s slipping away without any progress, a fear that we have all felt this year. Without knowing it Parker perfectly captured the mood of 2020.
26. DEWEY – Is It Infatuation?
The hypnotic groove of this track will immediately draw you in, becoming truly infatuated with its melodies afterwards. A confident and bold pop ballad that is sure to be the first of many to come from Brighton based singer-songwriter Fifi Dewey.
25. Aleksandir – I Used To Dream
Aleksandir solidifies his name with his debut album. Released as a single, I Used To Dream, is a song acting like a lucid dream. The song propels and develops in a way that is extremely satisfying, yet completely unpredictable. Aleksandir is an absolute delight to listen to.
24. Rina Sawayama – Dynasty
Pop-rock ballad with a top level vocal performance from one of indie pop’s most exciting new stars. Just listen to Sawayma match the rising guitar solo towards the climax almost note for note, true musical prowess. A power anthem that is sure to be a staple of Sawayma’s live show, and we can’t wait to see it.
23. King Krule – Underclass
Jazzy, moody and a crisp saxophone solo, this is King Krule distilled into one powerful tune. Archie Marshall asks the question of whether he will still be loved at his lowest. Lush instrumentation that glides you through the hazy and deeply intoxicating mind of Marshall.
22. Clipping – Say The Name
Daveed Diggs and co. return with a more bloody and menacing follow up to 2019’s There Existed An Addiction To Blood . And this title track distills the album to its core. Infatuating beat and menacing chorus lines over a superb and continuously flowing delivery from Diggs descends into all out horror towards the back end of the song.
21. Okay Kaya – Comic Sans
A master craft of minimalism. A highly addictive chorus line and sparse production allows Kaya Wilkins to show off her greatest talent, vocal manipulation. Every listen brings something new to the forefront, it’s a song that keeps on giving.
20. Mary Lattimore – Pine Trees
It’s truly incredible the emotions and memories that Mary Lattimore can invoke with just the pluck of her harp. Layering melodies and warm synthesisers until you at once feel at ease, feeling as if nothing in the world could be wrong. Close your eyes and let the plains of flowing grass hills take over your mind.
19. Fenne Lily – Elliott
With heartbreak at its core, this emotional filled slow burner is as moving as it is intimate. It’s hard to pick one element that is more beautiful than the rest as the slow plucked guitar, sweeping violins and hushed vocals all compete to make you cry the most.
18. Lianne La Havas – Can’t Fight
As this sons builds through its many intricate layers there’s one constant that remains, Lianne La Havas’ immeasurable natural talent. Reaching a truly hypnotic and enchanting climax of sound that showcases La Havas’ delicately rich songwriting ability.
17. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Intrasport
Who knew that they needed a microtonal 90’s Turkish house banger? Well here King Gizzard are to deliver it, and boy does it slap. Infatuating groove and a deeply funky bass, this latest expanse on King Gizzard’s ever revolving sound is both hypnotic and sinister if you dive deep enough into the lyrics. “I used to dream about killing certain people” sings Joey Walker.
16. GUM – Don’t Let It Go Out
Jay Watson really is a force to be reckoned with in the world of psychedelic rock. When he’s not touring the world with Tame Impala or writing for POND he’s busy crafting huge sonic bursts of grandure, like in the climax of this song. When the sun eventually explodes and burns us all to a crisp I expect this to be exactly what it sounds like, unrelenting bliss.
15. Sorry – Rosie
There’s just something about the way that Sorry write songs that make them sound so familiar yet in a world of their own. A classic indie rock sound at its core, yet deep below in the production and flow of the song lies a darkness that feels like its trying to emerge at every opportunity. The almost dead pan vocal deliveries of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen lure you in to somewhere that feels distant and yet oh so familiar.
14. Yves Tumor – Gospel For A New Century
Glichy melodies, sensational chorus lines and twisiting instrumentation. This song allows Tumor to show off their new found lead singer status. Taking the song and owning it with an unchallenged glamour throughout, instrumentally and vocally it’s one of the most enticing sounds Tumor has created to date.
13. Katy J. Pearson – Take Back The Radio
A confident and assured country/ pop/ indie anthem. A hugely catchy chorus and infatuating melody, it showcases Pearson’s fresh and vibrant songwriting talent. If this isn’t featured on the next season of Nashville (is it still going?) then what has the world come to. Bristol’s best kept secret has been given to the world, and it’s a better place for it.
12. Benny Sings feat. Mac DeMarco – Rolled Up
The combo we all needed this year. A simple, and yet tasteful expression of the blues we all feel at times shows that you don’t always need deep layers of production to make a fantastic song. DeMarco’s happy-go-lucky chorus lines paired with Benny Sings’ minimalist crooning melodies are a true match made in heaven.
11. Adrianne Lenker – Anything
Adrianne Lenker manages to create so much with so little. From Songs And Instrumentals, an album recorded in its entirety with analogue equipment, Lenker perfectly captures the intimacy of love. The combination of the caressing guitar sounds and Lenker’s emotive vocal performance is enough to make anybody believe in love.
10. I Break Horses – Turn
A gloriously magic and sonically layered 7 minute dream pop journey, guided by Maria Lindén’s radiant vocals. Twisting and turning over its run time, forever gliding to its next moment of pure bliss. Turn out the lights and let Lindén take you to new found depths of consciousness.
9. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
The title track of Phoebe Bridgers sophomore album is an ode to Elliot Smith, without a doubt Bridgers’ biggest influence. Pouring her heart out to someone she’s never met shows just what it’s like to be infatuated by the idea of someone. Instrumentally this is one of Bridgers’ most hauntingly beautiful and delicately devastating tracks so far; I hope the rolling piano line is the soundtrack to the ascent to heaven.
8. Perfume Genius – On The Floor
The chorus and groove of this song is an infatuating as the emotions that Michael Hadreas sings of in this indie pop anthem. Fantastic production, feeling reminiscent of both 70’s funk and 90’s power pop this track is sure to have you writing letters to your teenage heartbreak asking where it all went wrong. Both emotionally fuelled and impactful.
7. HMLTD – Mikey’s Song
Bathed in 80’s power pop ballad nostalgia, this offering London based experimentalist indie outfit HMLTD has it all. An encapsulating melody, huge powerful chorus and gorgeous instrumentation. The band prides themselves on not having any two songs in the same style, well if they were to do more with this much bravado then I don’t think anyone would complain.
6. IDLES – War
An immediate and hard behemoth of an opener that sets the tone for the whole of IDLES third album, brutal. Both chaotic and controlled at the same time, the noise descriptions of lead singer Joe Talbot seem tongue in cheek at first listen, but soon you realise they are describing the horrors of real war. Affirming their political stance with no sense of mysticism about it, “This means war! Anti war!” cries Talbot of blistering guitars and searing synths.
5. L.A. Priest – Rubber Sky
Where Sam Easgate excels as a songwriter is his continual strive to push sounds to their absolute maximum potential. Recorded and played in its entirery by Eastgate this electronic pop banger not only showcases his multi octave vocal ability but also his ability to make sounds transcend into new planes of depth. Also featuring a truly dirty bass line.
4. Tame Impala – One More Year
Kevin Parker is a studio wizard and the opening track of The Slow Rush only enhances this notion. Almost gregorian chants of “One more year” circle around the soundscape as Parker sings of having to wait just a bit longer to be where he wants to, sound familiar to anyone? Unknowingly creating the psychedelic blissful sounds that soundtracked many peoples quarantine life.
3. Phoebe Bridgers – Garden Song
Phoebe Bridgers has a unique talent for sounding so huge whilst simultaneously delivering some of the warmest and softest sounding songs in indie folk. The watered guitar line continually tries to reach out over itself, just to be nurtured back down by Bridgers soft reminiscing of her dreams. It’s hard to describe just how much beauty is in hidden within the subtleties of this song, it’s best to just let it speak for itself.
2. Sorry – As The Sun Sets
It’s hard to describe just how hard hitting this song is whilst simultaneously being so full of suave. A truly menacing sound, the beauty is in the dense and ever expanding production. Quoting Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World”, Sorry seek to capture the emotional density of just simple life, and do it with an unchallenged cool.
1. Phoebe Bridgers – I Know The End
Phoebe Bridgers wrote the soundtrack to the apocalypse, and then the apocalypse happened. This hauntingly devastating and emotionally triumphant closer to one of this years best albums perfectly combines the beauty of Bridgers delicate guitar ballads in the first half, to break out into all out chaos in the end. Fanfares, choruses of “The end is here” and a final bow out scream from Bridgers perfectly captures the collective emotional whirlwind of this year.
Tame Impala have announced a 10th anniversary reissue of debut album Innerspeaker. Previouslt hinted at earlier in the year when Kevin Parker posted alternative cover artwork for the album saying “Announcement of something very special coming v soon”.
The webstore says ” To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its release, Tame Impala present a deluxe, 4LP reissue of the debut album InnerSpeaker. Recorded in 2009 in Western Australia, InnerSpeaker was Kevin Parker’s first full length missive and an explosive invitation into what would become his inimitable psych-tinged world.
This expanded deluxe edition of the album features the singles ‘Solitude Is Bliss’, ‘Lucidity’, ‘Expectation’ amongst the original album track list, plus: A collage of album sketches, An unearthed, side-long jam, New mixes of tracks off the original album, Instrumentals and A deluxe 40-page booklet.”
The new reissue boxset is set to be released on March 26th 2021 and available to pre-order now.
Earlier in the year Tame Impala released The Slow Rush, their first album in 5 years following on from 2015’s critically acclaimed Currents.
Last night (22nd September) Tame Impala performed “Borderline” off of their latest album ‘The Slow Rush’ to an empty venue. The group appears to use the same equipment set up as used on their NPR Tiny Desk concert performance in which they performed “Breathe Deeper”, “Is It True” and “Patience”.
Tame Impala were also recently nominated for ‘Top Rock Artist’ and ‘Top Rock Album’ for the ‘The Slow Rush’ on the Billboard Music Awards.
It’s been quite a ride for Dom Simper aka bambi to get to this point. 10 years deep into his musical career and a life time of playing music, he’s finally graced the world with his first solo release. Many will recognise him as the guitar and synthesiser maestro extraordinaire of Tame Impala. He’s toured the world many times over with a headline slot at Coachella thrown in, but now he’s here to make his full statement as an artist in the shape of unfolding, his debut EP released via Spinning Top Music.
This EP is an expression of not only Simper’s talents as a musician but his ability to capture feelings and moments within time and perfectly represent them with a wide sonic palette. The sound of unfolding takes influence from cinematic soundtracks, Japanese new age music and 20th century classical minimalism. But the ideas fused to the songs relate to the ever shifting and changing motion of life; that everything is in constant flux. Throughout the songs the melodies twirl and dance around each other, never becoming dormant; a representation of many aspects of life.
We spoke to Dom about the EP, why now was the time to release it and his love of geometry.
So I wanted to ask about the name bambi, is there any special meaning behind it or is there any particular reason you chose to release under that name?
I didn’t really want to use my real name, but it’s kind of redundant becuase everyone knows its me, but I don’t like the idea of having my actual name printed around the world. And then I just find the idea of a name kind of arbitrary, you need one so you have one. And it’s just a nickname that I had from more than 10 years ago. I like the childish naivety behind the name bambi, it sort of represents nature and innocence.
How long has this music been in the works?
I recorded it all in the second half of 2018. I’ve loved the music of Eric Satie, for 15 years or so and I’ve always kind of enjoyed Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works and more minimal ambient music. And then in that period I got kind of obsessed with the idea of environmental music and music that works perfectly with a physical space. Like a moment in nature or the synergy that a perfect environment can have with music.
Was there a particular environment that influenced this work? Or was it all different places?
There was no single particular environment, but lots of kind of individual moments. Whether its architecture, the forest or the ocean. I find both nature and architecture, a human design space can also work with music just as well. It wasn’t this singular moment where everything coalesced. It was a long process of working with these ideas.
Has this style of music been a style you’ve been playing for a while then?
It’s something i’ve been playing around with for quite some time.
So is this what you wanted your music to sound like?
Yeah but at the same time I don’t like to impose a narrow boundary for the future, or anything that boxes you in. You want to have the ability to go wherever you are. Whether you call it your muse or whatever interests you at the time. I like the idea that you’re always exploring an element of the unknown or something thats no so familiar with you. So I don’t really like the idea of going down a singular path.
Yeah definitely and this is what felt right for this particular project
Yeah exactly 100%.
What does the title ‘unfolding’ mean to you?
I just think it works on multiple levels. It’s almost a metaphor for life, everything’s just constantly unfolding around us. Our relationships with people, our dreams and it kind of applies to the music as well. I like the way that the melodic fragments unfold throughout the songs. I really like geometry, almost like origami, I find there’s something elegant about angles.
I heard quite a lot of that in ‘weber-fechner’, which I’ve researched quickly and it’s related to human perception if i’m correct?
Yeah its like a minimalist manifesto. The less stimulus there is, the less sensitive we are to a change in that stimulus. And you can’t really grow your perception if there’s less going on. I feel we’re often just bombarded with sensory input which kind of dumbs down our perceptive apparatus, if that makes any sense?
Yeah definitely. Was the concept what you had in mind when you were creating the track or was a title that fit with it after you’d made it?
I was thinking about that metaphysical stuff in parallel to when I was making the music, but not when I was making the music. But the ideas are constantly jumping around your subconscious and so it comes out in the music. But it’s never an intentional thing of I’m going to write a song about this idea. It just comes together at a certain point.
With the song ‘first snow of winter’ it feels as though it captures a certain moment in time. Is there a particular moment that you relate that song to?
Yeah definitely. It was the feeling you get, as an Australian, I was living over in the Netherlands during that period and as the title says it was the first snow fall of winter. Just staring out the window feeling completely mesmerised, it was the most magical moment of stillness and beauty. I don’t know if it translates if you’re from there and you’re used to it but it was kind of like the same way we see rain, it was just magical.
Do you feel being originally from Australia and then living there changed your perception of how you’d see it?
I think so, it took me to almost this kind of childhood, being lost in the moment and not having concept for everything where you just give it a name and that’s it. Rather you just get lost within the senses of it all.
Listening to the EP as well, there’s also quite a cinematic sound to it like a soundtrack almost. Is that something you’d ever want to create?
I think so yeah, I like the idea of having something to work with visually to create the music to. And also the fact that you can kind of do it behind the scenes. Having the visual there already is almost like a starting point, it can trigger ideas or a path to go down instead of just a blank canvas.
Do you feel creating these instrumental cinematic sounding tracks gives you more freedom as an artist to express yourself?
Yeah but at the same time I feel like if you’re an artist and you don’t have that sense of freedom then it’s almost like you’re doing it wrong. I don’t like the idea of, whether they’re internal or external having borders placed on what you can do. Obviously if there’s lyrics attached then there’s a new level of meaning to them with interpretation. But you could also keep them quite ambiguous. It’s really up to the artist how much of a defined narrative they want to give to their work. But I always think there’s beauty to ambiguity more so than a strict narrative.
Have there been any soundtracks in particular that have influenced you?
Definitely, a few movies from Europe in the 60’s. Some (Jean-Luc) Godard movies. Le Mépris that’s got Brigitte Bardot in it, that soundtrack was done by Georges de Beauregard, which is a very beautiful sweeping string soundtrack. I love how it’s almost a super saturated emotional feeling that transcends the mundane. If that makes any sense?
Have you seen the movie Valerie and Her Week Of Wonders?
I haven’t actually no!
That’s also got a beautiful soundtrack, yeah definitely those kinds of films. Also the soundtracks of Francis Lai, he does a lot or orchestral sounds mixed with synthesisers which I really like.
Do you feel soundtracks have more of an influence on your sound? Or as you mentioned artists like Aphex Twin? Or does it all come together?
It’s hard to prescribe a certain percentage of how a particular artist or genre has influenced my sound. I also really like a lot of the electronic old Japanese new age composers. Suzanne Ciani and Pauline Anna Strom have these really warm synthesiser records.
Listening to ‘garden’ I heard some elements of Haroumi Hosono in there.
Yeah potentially, I do love Hosono. It’s funny the references people say when they’ve heard it. They’re some of my favourite artists but I wouldn’t necessarily draw those links either but it’s almost complimentary to hear that.
Most of the EP was created on synthesisers, what draws you to this instrument over say the guitar?
I like the idea of making an electronic instrument sound organic, I feel that does something with your brain that you’ve got this thing that’s almost not real and you’re almost trying to bring it to life and make it breathe. I like the feeling that that gives you, more so than just acoustic instruments I guess. I think synthesisers have this amazing ability to always sound modern, almost nostalgic and futuristic at the same time.
I think working with synthesisers gives you a lot of freedomif that makes sense?
Well definitely you kind of just design your own sound. You work with sound the same way you work with clay in that you can shape it. Whereas you’re kind of stuck with the palette you’re given with other instruments. I mean that’s not necessarily true with guitars, but a lot of instruments really restrain how much you can shape them in terms of their envelopes or timbre.
And was designing those an important part of the process for you?
Yes and no. I’m not like a super nerd in that sense but you’re kind of just experimenting until you find something that gives you the feeling you’re chasing. I’d love to be more trained in that element, I think i’m getting better at it but it’s just experimentation and exploration until you find the right note.
The EP was mixed by James Ireland, who’s someone you’ve known for quite a while. Do you feel having someone you’ve known for a long time helped complete your vision rather than just going to an engineer you haven’t met before?
I think you’re starting from a position of trust and understanding rather than someone from the outside. You can trust what you ask of them and what you communicate will translate and it’s very natural. And it makes the process just that much more easier I think.
With this project being finished in 2018, why did you feel now was the right time to release it?
I decided to release it early to mid last year, but then last year was pretty busy touring with Tame Impala. And then I moved back to Australia. Also working with the artist for the artwork, working with the label to bring it out takes its own time frame. There’s all these bottlenecks that you’re waiting to be ticked off, like the vinyl production. So it’s relatively arbitrary to the face that it came out last week. It takes longer than you’d think, it’s not just like you finish it and then it’s out in the world as I discovered.
I wanted to ask about the artwork actually, who designed it and why did you choose that image in particular?
I just asked my friend in the Netherlands, she’d already done a few of these abstract cubic geometric paintings. And the palette in particular is supposed to capture a warm European sunrise, almost like a winters sunrise, very soft and hazy. And I just like that stained glass window effect, like I said i like shapes and angles. And then I worked with an artist over here in Perth to clean it up get it so the whole package was how I wanted it.
I think it really fits well with the whole atheistic over the EP.
Yeah cool thank you.
As you said before you usually spend most of the year touring the world, has this time of an extended break allowed you to do anything you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to?
Yeah just in terms of having months at a time to focus on something, like i’m trying to get better at playing the piano, so i’ve been playing that everyday. And I’ve never had such an intense period of being able to focus on something without being whisked off on a plane. So in that sense it has, and just being home for so long. I haven’t really been in one place for more than a few months since 2010. It’s been interesting.
With live shows as well, obviously at the moment no one knows when they’ll happen again but have you thought about what that could look like for your music?
Yeah i’ve been wrestling with the idea. I think it’s hard at this point because I’m trying to reconcile that as music the EP is quite passive. The intention was that it’s not necessarily background music in that sense, but the idea of having a guy on stage performing it doesn’t quite seem to feel right at this point, so wether I try to make it a bit more engaging. I would also be interested in creating an instillation or bringing some sort of visual element in to it to make it more of an immersive experience rather than just the traditional set up of some guy with some gear on stage.
Yeah of course, something in a gallery could work really well.
Have you got any visual pieces to go with the songs?
Not really, i’ve never really worked myself with the visual medium. I’m definitely open to the idea of collaborating with someone, but at the same time I’d want to happen rather organically.
Yeah definitely rather than just looking for someone to create a piece. I believe that’s everything from me, thank you so much for your time!
No problem, thanks very much for the interview!
unfolding is available to stream now and available on vinyl here.
Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet has released of Tame Impala’s ‘Is It True’ from his latest album ‘The Slow Rush’ which was released back in February. Tame Impala also recently released a music video for ‘Is It True’ which you can watch here.
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is set to appear live on NTS Radio tonight at 12:05 UK time.
NTS is hosting a series of lives performances and DJ Sets as part of their ‘Remote Utopias’ radio takeover today, Saturday 2nd of May. The radio station said “The broadcast will be fundraising for The Global Foodbanking Network, encouraging listeners to donate when they tune in and give back to the global community. Thanks to the support of Jameson, NTS will be able to support upwards of fifty artists, from NTS residents to emerging and established talent”.
Tame Impala released their fourth album ‘The Slow Rush’ in February, nearly 5 years after ‘Currents’ was released. They only managed to play three shows of their scheduled tour before having to postpone it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New dates for America are yet to be announced.
Tame Impala member Jay Watson also recently announced a new solo album, click here to find out more.