Open Your Ears – New Releases May


The Pastels – Slow Summits (Domino)

As the originators of the indie jangle and forefathers of the C86 scene, modern independent guitar music has a lot to thank Glasgow’s Pastels for. Only their fifth album proper in their 31-year lifespan (and their first since 1997′s Illumination), the release of Slow Summits was always going to be a special occasion. With contributions from Craig Armstrong, To Rococo Rot and production by Jon McEntire of Tortoise; this record has the potential to be a career peak. Check out the brilliant video for ‘Check Your Heart’ by our pal Blair Young from Forrest of Black here.


Emika – Dva (Ninja Tune)

Berlin-via-Bristol multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Emika drops her second album for Ninja Tune very soon, and you can consider it this month’s Ninja Tune must-have record. Similarities with a moodier Goldfrapp – or even James Blake – are hard to ignore, but since the former has done little of note recently, and the latter changed direction somewhat with his latest album, this is the perfect selection to fill that gap in your life. It’s hard to picture this not crossing over to the mainstream, and for all the right reasons. Listen to lead single ‘Sing To Me’ here.


Various – The Heart Vol 3 (Tokyo Dawn)
While we’re getting used to the quality of compilations that Tokyo Dawn keep releasing, we’re never sure what they’re going to do next. The Heart volumes one and two brought us some of the finest modern soul around, but volume three dives deep into the heart of the genre. Modern electronic R&B for a discerning pop audience from the likes of Blaktronics, Positive Flow, Pugs Atomz and Vindahl abounds, and as a result there isn’t a bad track here. Listen to it right here.


She & Him – Volume 3 (Domino)

‘Super duo’ of celebrity A-lister Zooey Deschanel and indie troubadour M. Ward release their third album this month, and – as usual – it’s a set almost entirely penned by Deschanel. The timeless country/folk niche that the pair favour is once again at the fore, with songs weaving in and out of styles reminiscent of the Carter Family if they’d been produced by Phil Spector, and the Beach Boys if they were produced by George Martin. The album’s out on Monday and is a perfect accompaniment to the previous pair of releases. We’re not counting the Christmas album right now, since – although it is actually very good – the sun is finally shining and letting it snow is the last thing on our minds. Investigate here.


John Morales – The M&M Mixes (BBE)

This is the third part in a potentially unending document of John Morales’ legacy in dance music. The M&M duo or Morales and Sergio Munzibai shaped over 650 mixes between 1982 and 1990, and John is proudly continuing the legacy with these reissues. This third installment features Teddy Pendergrass, Loleatta Holloway, the Jones Girls and Marvin Gaye. These are landmark moments in dance/soul/boogie/funk/disco, and an essential purchase for anybody with any interest in the rich history of black club music.


Heliocentrics – 13 Degrees of Reality (Now Again)

The second album by British psyche-fun collective the Heliocentrics comes to us courtesy of Stones Throw offshoot label Now Again, and the band more than deserve their place amongst the raw funk, rare groove and lost soul the label usually tend to specialise in. The record undeniably references the production style of Malcolm Catto, and it sounds every bit as real. Three years in the making, this is a genuinely thrilling record that could have been released any time in the last fifty years. Get the lowdown here.


The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango (Memphis Industries)

There’s currently no shortage of exciting music coming out of New Zealand, and whether it’s the nation’s rich musical legacy of something to do with the climate/geography, we give thanks. Fandango is a double album, and The Phoenix Foundation’s fifth album in ten years, and probably their most ‘contemporary’. Whether by chance or by design, the synths, indie-vocals and melodies are pretty distinct parallels to the work of Alt-J, Villagers and Gorillaz. And there’s always space for that in our lives. Check out lead single ‘The Captain‘.


Conquering Animal Sound – On Floating Bodies (Chemikal Underground)
If nowadays Four Tet and olden-days Bjork were to be a band, it’s hard not to imagine them sounding like Conquering Animal Sound. On Floating Bodies, their second full length release, is layered with the organic electronics beloved by Keiran Hebden’s wonderful Four Tet and laced together with the glacial vocal of Glasgow based Icelander Anneke Kampman. Simultaneously delicate and confident, this is indie-electronics for the thinking pop fan. Get the info you need at their site.