Kate Tempest – The Book of Traps and Lessons

Kate Tempest reinforces her poetic credentials on her fourth album, working with Rick Rubin to pare back accompaniment to a minimum. This suits her emotional transparency, but makes for uncomfortable listening. On opener Thirsty, backed only by wraithlike synthesiser swirls, she’s “heart-broken, vomiting memories”, while, on I Trap You, an old 78rpm fails to distract from a painful revelation: “I called it ‘Love’/ I should … Continue reading Kate Tempest – The Book of Traps and Lessons

Tropical Fuckstorm – Braindrops

After releasing one of 2018’s best albums in A Laughing Death In Meatspace, Tropical Fuckstorm, the Australian outfit made up of former members of the Drones drop a quick follow-up. Sadly, it doesn’t quite have the magic the debut did. The same humorous and often brilliant lyrics, half-spoken on top of screeching guitars, erratic bursts of drums, and jagged-edged rhythms exist here, but the more … Continue reading Tropical Fuckstorm – Braindrops

Sarathy Korwar – More Arriving

Skilled multi-instrumentalist Sarathy Korwar was born in the US but grew up in Ahmedabad and Chennai, and now resides in London. Since moving to the capital, he has established himself as a compelling artist in the UK jazz scene, and is able to draw on any number of rich formative influences linked to the varied geography of his upbringing. More Arriving is Korwar’s second album … Continue reading Sarathy Korwar – More Arriving

Night Moves – Can You Really Find Me

Former schoolmates in their native Minneapolis, John Pelant and Micky Alfano soon discovered they shared a mutual appreciation of Todd Rundgren and The Beach Boys. It’s an entirely familiar how-our-indie-rock-band-formed kind of tale, but this time one that hasn’t resulted in any retro kitsch Lemon Twigs-style indulgence. Night Moves’ singer Pelant has a vocal range that’s almost as wide as fellow Mini Apple alumni Prince … Continue reading Night Moves – Can You Really Find Me

Marika Hackman – Any Human Friend

On her fourth album, Marika Hackman has produced a record that sounds like the result of someone plunging deep inside herself and allowing the contents to gush to the surface. While it’s a personal, often raw and emotional record that explores identity and sex, it’s also one that avoids the trappings one may associate with such ‘confessional’ music. It feels like an emboldened statement and … Continue reading Marika Hackman – Any Human Friend

The Soft Cavalry – The Soft Cavalry

Musical fulfilment has arrived late for tour manager and sideman Steve Clarke. The Soft Cavalry is a new project with his wife Rachel Goswell of Slowdive. A record documenting recovery and resilience, their debut at times reverberates with the coruscating post-rock dynamics of Goswell’s main band, her ghostly vocal to the fore on Passerby, but other musical moods prevail, too. Bulletproof’s strident disco beat and … Continue reading The Soft Cavalry – The Soft Cavalry

Jambinai – ONDA

The world sometimes seems to be unnecessarily full of post-rock albums that go quiet-loud-quiet or loud-quiet-loud because, well, that’s what post-rock does. But there are still records that step outside ossifying genre rules to conjure up the spirit of pioneers such as Mogwai or Swans. The third LP from Korea’s Jambinai is a case in point. Laying traditional instruments and vocals on top of a … Continue reading Jambinai – ONDA

Dope Lemon – Smooth Big Cat

Let’s hope Angus Stone’s mother doesn’t listen closely to Dope Lemon’s second album, though, given the project’s name, references to drugs and drink may not surprise her. On Hey You, whose woozy guitars recall fellow Australians Swazi Gold’s recent debut, he sounds so lethargic singing of “Staying out late/ Gonna get drunk” he could be dozing, and though Salt & Pepper cautions “I got the … Continue reading Dope Lemon – Smooth Big Cat

The Alarm – ∑ SIGMA

To describe The Alarm’s latest as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” is cruel. It is, however, overflowing with rowdy passion and vague proclamations. The former’s understandable: Mike Peters has twice battled cancer. Still, one hopes for greater truths than Prisoners’ “If I was a bird/ I would fly/ In the sky/ So high”, especially when the song addresses radiation therapy. Elsewhere, Peters proves … Continue reading The Alarm – ∑ SIGMA

Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In

Sibling songwriters Jack and Lily Wolter may be six years apart in age, but the duo at the heart of this Brighton four-piece clearly have enough shared experiences to yield some inspired material. Their debut album is a heady wonder of askew dream pop. Not Talking is like a dizzy collision of Radiohead and Grandaddy, replete with a howling guitar interlude and Lily’s Underwater Record … Continue reading Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In