Genre Hopping: Library music

Library music is enjoying a vinyl renaissance, but was nearly left to languish in the vaults forever. Don’t burn down the library until you’ve heard all the music, says Chris Parkin… If you’re a fan of schlocky 70s horror films – or indeed, you’ve ever turned on a TV – then you will have heard library music. These are songs or incidental tracks composed for … Continue reading Genre Hopping: Library music

Boygenius – Boygenius

Three of the outstanding vocalists of recent times – Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker – were thrown together through chance meetings on the touring circuit, and the decision to form Boygenius was a natural one. Each bringing one song and one work in progress into the studio, the resulting six-song EP showcases both their disparate talents and shared experience. Dacus’ superbly ragged guitar … Continue reading Boygenius – Boygenius

The Fall – I Am Kurious Oranj

As is the ever-giving nature and brilliance of The Fall, there will always be albums that, with time, distance, understanding and reappraisal, will gain a new sense of potency in their back catalogue. I Am Kurious Oranj was always a brilliant, unexpected and complete statement, but sitting as their 11th album, looking back, it seems to embody a period of The Fall in which pop … Continue reading The Fall – I Am Kurious Oranj

This Mortal Coil – It'll End In Tears/Filigree & Shadow/Blood

This Mortal Coil might exist as an indulgent footnote in 4AD’s expansive history were it not that – given its artists, and Vaughan Oliver’s grand packaging – indulgence suited the label’s 1980s aesthetic well. With three lengthy albums over eight years, the collective – headed by 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell, alongside producer John Fryer – summarised the company’s baroque, almost gothic intent, and, to boot, … Continue reading This Mortal Coil – It'll End In Tears/Filigree & Shadow/Blood

Sonic Youth’s Goo – The Story Behind The Sleeve

Released in June 1990, Goo was the sixth studio album from Sonic Youth and their major-label debut. However, it nearly had an altogether different title. The band wanted to call the album Blowjob? inspired by a caricature of Joan Crawford by Arizona artist Raymond Pettibon, brother of Black Flag frontman and guitarist Greg Ginn. Kim Gordon had been an admirer of Pettibon’s Indian ink style … Continue reading Sonic Youth’s Goo – The Story Behind The Sleeve

Yoko Ono – Warzone

There’s no doubting Yoko Ono’s sincerity: Warzone’s title track begins with jungle sounds brutally disturbed by machine-gun fire, before she starts wailing passionate warnings in that inimitable fashion. But though there’s something primitive about her soundscapes, like a latter-day Scott Walker album on an IKEA budget, it’s when she describes “Men flashing their guns and balls/ Women looking like barbie dolls” that you realise how … Continue reading Yoko Ono – Warzone

David Bowie – Loving The Alien (1983-1988)

The fourth of the now-traditional annual David Bowie boxsets should be the first to make even hardcore Bowie fans pause before forking out £220. The unexpected scale of the success of Let’s Dance undoubtedly spooked Bowie, and he didn’t recover for the rest of the decade. No one, least of all Bowie himself, could pretend Let’s Dance’s successors Tonight and Never Let Me Down are … Continue reading David Bowie – Loving The Alien (1983-1988)

Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

The follow-up to 2015’s B’lieve I’m Goin Down is an open-hearted ode to travel and love, its sprawling songs recorded all over the USA and carrying the War On Drugs co-founder in new musical directions. Bottle It In clocks in at 75 minutes, with no fewer than four songs passing the seven-minute mark; Vile takes his time, and his laconic vocal style and expansive guitar … Continue reading Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

Richard Ashcroft – Natural Rebel

Those of us still longing for the bulging-eyed Richard Ashcroft of A Northern Soul-era Verve will have to accept he’s put those days behind him. That said, there are moments on Natural Rebel where you can picture the veins standing out on his neck like the shamanic incarnation of old. He’s a more relaxed, measured presence these days for the most part, but the passion … Continue reading Richard Ashcroft – Natural Rebel

Paul Weller – True Meanings

Over the past decade since 22 Dreams, Paul Weller has been on a brilliant run of experimental albums. Alongside those, he’s also been quietly stockpiling the kind of simple ballads he’s excelled at ever since English Rose. Having celebrated his 60th birthday in May, an atypically reflective Weller collates his most unadorned singer-songwriter album since Heavy Soul. Guests include Martin Carthy and The Zombies’ Rod … Continue reading Paul Weller – True Meanings