Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews: May

Fleet Foxes — Crack Up

With bands reforming left, right, and centre after decades long spells apart, what constitutes a long break between albums is certainly up for debate. Yet Fleet Foxes never disbanded. Instead, their six year sabbatical was simply a time for the band to explore ventures new before returning with ‘Crack Up’, their new album that starts exactly where they left off. Their constrained sound often has a hazy quality, yet as the album develops there are more frequent moments of openness as the acoustic instrumentation becomes a little bolder, holding more steady, and Robin Pecknold’s vocals shine through, none more so than on ‘Third of May/Ōdaigahara’. Listen to it here.

Yumi Zouma — (What's the Story) Morning Glory?

Released as part of the ‘Sounds Delicious’ series of full album covers from Seattle indie ‘Turntable Kitchen’ comes this full work out of the Oasis classic from Yumi Zouma. Forgoing the originals bluster in favour of dreamy Indie Electronica of varying guises, it’s a switch in pacing that’s expertly composed. While ‘She’s Electric’ is a full out Shoegaze wall of guitar texture, ‘Some Might Say’ verges on lightly funky Electro. It’s a varied collection that takes twists and turns with each track. The stand out is the title track, now transformed from a light sleaze to a brooding ode to high gloss, lurid kicks, like an 80s B-movie soundtrack gone rogue. Catch it here.

Juana Molina — Halo

As long time fans of Juana Molina, particularly previous release ‘Wed 21’, we’re heartened to hear a new album that’s as inventive as anything Molina has released this far. Drawing together electronic and acoustic instrumentation into a slower package than ‘Wed 21’, ‘Halo’ is a dramatic album that focuses on texture and dynamic. On each track Molina’s vocals flit throughout the mix lending a melody here and a sonic background there, even going as far as dropping into nonsensical wordless sounds on ‘A00 B01’ and ‘In the Lassa’. The latter features rhythmic vocal utterances that accentuate a bright, intermittent melodic line that wound its way into being our standout highlight on a wholly captivating album. Listen to the entire album here.

Joe Goddard — Electric Lines

While Joe Goddard is best known for his part in electronic chart-botherers Hot Chip, this solo outing is not a Dance record, despite how it may sound. Instead, consider this a Pop record inspired by thirty-plus years of Pop beats and ‘Electric Lines’ will make a whole lot of sense. That it features several extended samples from popular tracks is a bold hat tip to wider Dance music culture and history that separates this album both from its sonic peers and, in its brash acknowledgement of its sources, from Goddard’s other projects. It’s a bold record of slick Pop tunes that fits right in with the moment; pretty much exactly what you’d expect from Goddard, and all you could hope for. Check out the title track featuring Hot Chip bandmate, Alexis Taylor.

Tosca — Going Going Going

After twenty years of producing albums at the more relaxed end of the electronic music spectrum, Tosca’s latest album is a return to the sounds of their earlier releases, sounds that now verge on being classics. While recent albums have pushed into Dance territory, ‘Going Going Going’ is a chilled, beats orientated album that takes in ambient House instrumentals and revels in deep Dub basslines. There are exceptions to this rule, as is the way with most at the top of their game, as seen in the piano intro to ‘Supersunday’ before it descends into a glassy synth line. On ‘Tommy’, our highlight, there’s even a hint of Kosmische amongst the Dub. Catch the album here.

Brownswood — Brownswood Bubblers Twelve, pt. 1

Curated by the main man at Brownswood, Gilles Peterson, the Brownswood Bubblers series has continually sought to showcase the very best in underground and under-appreciated new music, all while fitting in to the cool, crisp, and decidedly hip Brownswood aesthetic. It’s no wonder this series has featured Flying Lotus, Floating Points, and Dâm-Funk. On this twelfth release, the first of a two parter, each track is soulful, warm, and showcasing the chilled vibes of a perfect summer night. It’s a tight collection where each track really contributes to the whole, though stylistically it remains eclectic. Catch the whole collection here.

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