Welcome to the August 2018 edition of our monthly new music playlist, which is available to listen to and watch via YouTube. If you enjoy any of the songs featured here, we encourage you to support the artists by purchasing their music from your local record shop, or through online retailers.
Stream the playlist below and read a bit about each individual track further down the page. This edition features new music from Suede, Menace Beach, Crack Cloud, Drenge, The Orb, Slaves, James, She Makes War, Beak, Mogwai, Orbital, Aphex Twin, TVAM, Goatman, Basement Revolver, Paul Weller, The Blinders, She Drew The Gun, Metric, Underworld and Iggy Pop, Santigold, Nine Inch Nails, Spiritualized, Johnny Marr, BC Camplight, and Paul McCartney.
James - Hank/Many Faces
Their last two albums have found Manchester indie veterans James enjoying something of a renaissance. They can't do it again can they? Turns out they can; 'Living In Extraordinary Times' is even better than the previous two records, and one of this treasured group's finest albums.
With its big menacing drums, snarling bass, and heavy fuzz on the vocal, 'Hank' is opened outwards by those distinctive, powerful horns that are used brilliantly here to create an air of optimistic defiance, and a sense of rising up. It sets out the backdrop of these extraordinary times that the album's title refers to, times in which the most powerful country in the world is under the control of an arrogant, moronic billionaire, who already earned the title of Worst American President In History after just a few days in office. Clearly not a fantasy concept album, but a record about the state of this world we currently live in, and how we are treating each other as human beings. Once it all becomes clear, and you get to the core of this album, you realise how hard it can hit.
This is especially true of the glorious 'Many Faces', where the message is spelt loud and clear: "there's only one human race, many faces, everybody belongs here". Set to acoustic guitar and mariachi-like horns before building itself up into a true anthem of unity and hope, it's classic James. Living proof that a bands best work isn't always from their younger days, and that age means experience, not being past your peak. Somehow, James just keep on hitting the targets and confounding expectations.
Read the review of 'Living In Extraordinary Times' HERE.
Drenge - Before The War Begins
Described as "half a love song, and half a hate song", this moody alt-rock cracker from Drenge will be one of four tracks included on their upcoming EP 'Autonomy', which is released on October 5.
“Like most of our work, it’s a experiment in traditional songwriting gone wrong. A long hot summer and a hosepipe ban has the narrator comparing their deteriorating and dehydrated love life to a war torn city. Along the way they consider how 62 years after the Hungarian revolution there are still places where you can see the bullet holes in the walls in Budapest and how being whisked up by an exciting stranger translates to a long term relationship.”
She Makes War - Devastate Me
Bristol-based multi instrumentalist She Makes War is getting ready to release her fourth album 'Brace For Impact', the follow up to 2016's much recommended 'Direction Of Travel'. It'll be brilliant if 'Devastate Me' is anything to go by, a fiery no-nonsense Britpop attitude matched up with an explosive chorus and the sort of heaving riffage that brings to mind The Breeders, Garbage and other alt rock heroes. She Makes War will be touring the UK in October and November. If you sign up to the mailing list, you will get 5 free songs at http://www.shemakeswar.com
Idles - Samaritans
The new album from Bristol punks Idles is out today (August 31). 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' sees the band step up to a new level with terrific raw anthems that inspriingly capture the state of the UK, the world and modern day life. 'Samaritans' is another hard hitting moment, dealing with the stigma of male depression and the mask of masculinity.
Mogwai - We're Not Done
A stunning, scenic moment of gracefully surging euphoria from Mogwai. Following on from last year's 'Every Country's Sun', the Glasgow band are releasing 'KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack', recorded for the upcoming sci-fi/crime drama starring Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Dennis Quaid, and others. In a statement, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite said, “We were really excited to be asked to record the original score for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s debut movie KIN. It was amazing to do a project that was so different to anything we’ve done before and see how our music fits in a totally different environment to how it’s been used before.”
KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is out August 31. As well as a number of EPs and nine studio albums, Mogwai have also composed the soundtracks 'Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait', the French TV series Les Revenants, the documentary 'Atomic, Living in Dread and Promise' and also co-wrote the score to Fisher Stevens' 2016 documentary film about climate change 'Before the Flood' with Trent Reznor and others.
Underworld and Iggy Pop - Trapped/Get Your Shirt
A superb bit of techno krautrock punk from 'Tea Time Dub Encounters', the new four track EP from Iggy Pop and Underworld, a record described by the NME as "Batshit brilliance from three mad scientists with so much still to prove". Over time, I have noticed a clear Fall influence in Underworld's music, and since The Fall were partly influenced by Iggy And The Stooges, it makes sense that as well as hints of Suicide and Can, this collaboration bears echoes of Mark E Smith's work, especially this, with its strict mechanical repetition building fiercely alongside a mad narrative.
The rock legend and techno duo originally met up to collaborate on music intended for the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack, but plans changed and instead we ended up with a whole EP of crazy, awesome music from this brilliant pairing.
As well as the excellent 'Bells And Circles' (featured in last month's playlist), the EP also features 'Get Your Shirt', a slow grower that gradually gets deep under your skin.
BC Camplight - I'm Desperate
Urgent, pulsing suspense races through this excellent track from BC Camplight. Bringing to mind something resembling The Cure meets Arcade Fire, 'I'm Desperate' is taken from the American multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio's fourth album 'Deportation Blues', released this month on the Bella Union label.
Goatman - Jaam Ak Salam
Crazed shouting, urgent rhythms, dazzling bursts of brass, fat bass, lively flickers of guitar, heavy African vibes, multiple analog synth solos, ecstatic handclaps, a joyous repetitive, psychedelic groove... If these things appeal to you, give this excellent new track by Goatman a try. The mysterious artist is a member of the incredible Swedish band Goat, and is also signed to the otherworldly Rocket Recordings label. 'Jaam Ak Salam' is taken from a forthcoming album called 'Rhythms'.
Slaves - Chokehold
Unmistakably British punk, the sort that spits in your face as soon as it hits your ears. Representing a progression in the Kent duo's sound, where they used to sound a bit like the Beastie Boys mixed with Crass, this is not far from what Blur would sound like if they formed a supergroup with Sham 69. From the new album 'Acts Of Fear And Love'.
The Blinders - Brave New World
A fierce, dark, heavy glam rock stomp from The Blinders, which can be found on the Manchester band's forthcoming debut album 'Columbia'.
Aphex Twin - T69 Collapse
One day, Aphex Twin might decide to stop making totally deranged and brilliant music. I hope that day never comes. This is taken from the forthcoming EP 'Collapse', which will released via Warp Records on September 14.
Paul Weller - Moving On
The warm, relaxed beauty of this new Paul Weller track provides much optimism for his upcoming new album 'True Meanings'. A legendary artist who just keeps on creating superb sounds, keeping his work fresh through exploring an array of styles. Released on September 14, Weller's 14th solo studio album is billed as "a record unlike any he has ever made before, characterised by grandiose-yet-delicate, lush orchestration: an aesthetic to which Paul’s better-than-ever voice, singing some of his most nakedly honest words, is perfectly suited."
'True Meaning's features contributions from folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, plus Conor O'Brien, Noel Gallagher and Lucy Rose. Weller will be playing at the Bristol Downs festival tomorrow, September 1st along with Noel Gallagher and others.
Santigold - Run The Road
Infectious chorus, an addictively enjoyable digital reggae groove, and some great production. Some superb recent sounds courtesy of Santigold, taken from her fourth album 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions'.
Nine Inch Nails - Shit Mirror
In 2018, I would say that Trent Reznor is arguably the one artist pushing rock and metal to new, innovative places.
The recent Nine Inch Nails album 'Bad Witch' offers up a strange, terrifying and rewarding listening experience, continuing the evolution of his band with a fierce, uncompromising and powerful record. On the opening 'Shit Mirror', heavy industrial krautrock rhythms are coupled with savage guitars to create an explosive kind of motorik metal.
Elsewhere on 'Bad Witch', there are grainy drum n bass assaults, bursts of rampaging acid techno, sketchy, distorted beats, ominous free jazz interludes, nightmare inducing atmospheres, and a fine bit of robotic mechanical funk on the closing 'Over And Out'.
With a solemn underlying beauty peering through the recesses, this is a fascinating, brutal record, one of those albums that demands you to stop everything you're doing and listen. Inheriting a space in the cosmos somewhere near David Bowie's final album 'Blackstar', these ears can also detect shades of Aphex Twin, Throbbing Gristle, Boards Of Canada, Can and even Radiohead. In reality, it's both all and none of these things, 'Bad Witch' is the sort of record that only Trent Reznor could put together.
Menace Beach - Crawl In Love
Taken from their superb new album 'Black Rainbow Sound', this track from Leeds duo Menace Beach is bursting at the seams with squalling analogue synths, a monster of a shoegazey riff, a pleasingly lo-fi drum sound, and a weird druggy atmosphere billowing from its groove like a dense smoke. In places, almost bringing to mind a more psychedelic, shoegazey version of Mansun. Released today on August 31, 'Black Rainbow Sound' also features collaborations with ex Fall member Brix Smith, who now fronts Brix And The Extricated.
Suede - Life Is Golden
The third single to be released from Suede's upcoming album 'The Blue Hour' is the most instantly captivating one yet, a stunning moment of uplifting melancholy, with a soaring chorus that wouldn't have sounded out of place on 1996's 'Coming Up'. Possibly the most anthemic song that the indie legends have produced since reforming in 2010 and regaining their status as one of the finest bands around.
Basement Revolver - Heavy Eyes
Powerful, intense alt-rock, complete with big, militant drums and mesmeric waves of feedback. It's the title track from Canadian trio Basement Revolver's superb debut album, released last week on Aug 24.
Crack Cloud - Drab Measure
Without a doubt one of this year's best tracks. Motorik post-punk with sharp edges, bouncy bass, intricate guitar lines, angular, unstable howls of vocal and a tight rhythm all pushed to maximum limits on this urgent and tantalising track from Crack Cloud. The song can be found on the new self-titled album from the Canadian outfit who describe themselves as "a multimedia collective, comprising members from different cities, ethnicities and origins, who contribute to the sound, visual aesthetic and beyond" They list a few of their sonic influences as Gang Of Four, Fela Kuti and Talking Heads.
Orbital - P.H.U.K.U.
It turns out that the excellent 'P.H.U.K' was just the first part of a bigger thing from the electronic legends Orbital. The Hartnoll brothers have released this new version of the track, and although it's still unclear whether it'll feature on the upcoming album 'Monsters Exist', the bass sounds in this are awesome. Quite frankly, so is everything else featured within its banging 6 minutes and 25 seconds.
'Monsters Exist' is released September 14 and is available HERE in a variety of different formats, including a signed 4LP boxset and double vinyl.
Metric - Dressed To Surpress
Dancefloor euphoria combined with new wave guitars, the new track from the Canadian four piece Metric is a very enjoyable listen. It comes from their upcoming untitled seventh album, released on September 21. So much good music coming out of Canada at the moment...
Beak - Brean Down
Mysterious, gloomy and alluring new music from the Bristol trio Beak. Oddly Pink Floyd-like in places and complete with a great drum sound. The band will be releasing their third album on September 21, as well as hitting the UK for a tour in November. 'Brean Down' is actually named after a coastal location in Somerset. The group are made up of Billy Fuller, Invada Records boss Geoff Barrow, and Will Young (not THAT one, thankfully)
Spiritualized - Here It Comes
Relaxed country guitars, gospel vibes and the spirit of Lou Reed light up this new song from the upcoming Spiritualized album 'And Nothing Hurt'. It's very much what you'd expect from Jason Pierce.
The album, released on September 17, was conceived and recorded almost entirely by Pierce, AKA J. Spaceman – in an upstairs room in his east London home.
“Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house. The biggest thing for me was to try to make it sound like a studio session. But I was new to it all, I didn’t have all the short cuts people use as when they’re making records – I just sat there for weeks… for months… moving every level up bit by bit just to try to get the sounds right.”
TVAM - These Are Not Your Memories
Ear-pleasing psychedelic pop from TVAM, with an excellent job done on the production. The Wigan-based artist, also known as Joe Oxley, will be releasing his debut album 'Psychic Data' on October 19.
Speaking about 'These Are Your Memories', Oxley said: "I’m sick of nostalgia. There’s a real sadness at the heart of it. We’re obsessed with our pop culture past. So much so, we place more worth on the idea of our shared past than on actual memories and I’m guiltier than most other people. The internet is capable of truly amazing things, but being able to recall the theme tune to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at three in the morning isn’t one of them. The song is about taking society aside and having a quiet word about its shared identity crisis."
Johnny Marr - Walk Into The Sea
Beautifully haunting, mysterious and powerful moment from Johnny Marr's recent album 'Call The Comet'. His third solo LP is the Smiths guitar legend's most accomplished collection of songs yet, and filled with vibes that evoke other worlds while still always bringing to mind the sound of Manchester.
She Drew The Gun - Resister
You can hear all sorts of influences on this urgent new track from She Drew The Gun. 'Resister' is the opening song from 'Revolution Of Mind', the second album from the project of Liverpool artist Louisa Roach. “I’ve always felt drawn to music that says something,” explains Roach, “music that goes beyond simple love songs. As a songwriter, you’ve got the whole spectrum of human experience to draw from; half of that is the bigger picture stuff.”
The album is released October 5th on Skeleton Key Records. Roach lists its central themes as: “Empowerment; resisting; arming yourself with knowledge; questioning the status quo, questioning your own state of mind and how it’s affected by the systems we live in…”
The Orb - Pillow Fight @ Shag Mountain
Dub rhythms, house vibes, an infectious groove, ambient piano and samples aplenty all play a part in this wondrous slice of laid-back late night euphoria. It is without a doubt, classic Orb. The recent 'No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds' is the finest Orb record in many years, and sounds amazing on limited edition blue vinyl (which I think is still available at the time of posting).
While much Orb material of recent years has been characterised by minimalism, their 15th studio album finds the electronic legends exploring a dynamic range of influences, moods and sonic possibilities. The record also sees the duo collaborating with a host of guests including Youth, Jah Wobble, Hollie Cook and Roger Eno.
“I wanted to try something with more musicians and more voices. More contributors essentially - similar to the conditions our first album ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ were recorded in”, explains Alex Paterson. “Thomas and I made two streamlined, techno-style albums for Kompakt which I love, but this time I wanted a change to expand the palate, and to bring in other elements that will keep people guessing and keep them confused. This is a more English and less German sounding LP and it’s on an English label, although obviously the music comes from all over the globe and beyond, as do the musicians.”
The Orb will be celebrating their 30th anniversary by playing a six date UK tour this Autumn. The shows will feature a Greatest Hits set alongside tracks from the new album.
UK tour dates:
11th Oct – CARDIFF – Tramshed Tickets
12th Oct – BRISTOL – SWX Tickets
13th Oct – NEWCASTLE – Tickets
18th Oct – LIVERPOOL – Invisible Wind Factory Tickets
19th Oct – BRIGHTON – Concorde 2 Tickets
20th Oct – SHEFFIELD – Academy 2 Tickets
Paul McCartney - Come On To Me
It's hard to disagree with the fact that Paul McCartney is the biggest musical legend still alive today. Back with a new album, his return couldn't have come at a better time. With the all-time greats slowly disappearing from the world that they have coloured, it makes a welcome change to hear brand new music from one of history's greatest songwriters rather than reading another obituary.
It's also a welcoming surprise to say that these two new tracks are the best things Macca has produced in a long time, both evoking a more contemporary echo of The White Album. Which one shall I choose today: the beautiful 'I Don't Know' or the upbeat, classic McCartney singalong 'Come On To Me'? The latter will do nicely. 'Egypt Station' is released on September 7.