Welcome to the September 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 essential new music from Paul Weller, Estrons, Suede, Orbital, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Coral, Muse, The Prodigy, Parquet Courts, Slaves, The Living End, Thom Yorke, Low, She Makes War, Django Django, Gorillaz, Paul McCartney, The Orb, Disclosure, Brix And The Extricated, Idles, The Smashing Pumpkins, Jon Hopkins, White Lies, Kelly Moran, and Chase And Status.
Paul Weller - The Soul Searchers
This month saw the release of another collection of songs from the legendary Paul Weller. Already hugely critically acclaimed, 'True Meanings' opens with this wondrous acoustic tone-setter, a collaboration between Weller and Connor O’Brien of Villagers, who provided the lyrics. Rod Argent of The Zombies guests on Hammond organ. True Meanings is a majestic, varied yet focused record gleaming with mysterious, graceful beauty, every track reflecting a special warmth. Quite simply the best living songwriter on earth.
Having just won the award for Songwriter Of The Year at the GQ Awards, and played a stunning set at the Bristol Downs Festival earlier this month (reviewed in depth HERE), the British icon is on a roll. His 14th solo album (and 26th overall) is described as "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. It is not “a departure”, in the sense that soul-bearing, melancholic songs have always been an important part of what he does: from English Rose to Brand New Start, right up to The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe from last year’s Jawbone soundtrack. But never, ever before has he allowed himself an entire album to exhibit this side of his songwriting, or presented them quite like this.
The album was recorded in a 3 week period at Paul’s Black Barn Studio and produced largely by Weller. It was engineered and recorded by Charles Rees and mixed by Jan Stan Kybert. It also features contributions from folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, Conor O'Brien, Noel Gallagher and Lucy Rose.
Echo And The Bunnymen - The Somnambulist
Ian McCulloch clearly knows what he's good at. So he gives us more of it on this superb new track. It's from Echo And The Bunnymen's new orchestral album 'The Stars, The Ocean and The Moon', which combines new versions of some of the band's classic tracks with a couple of new tracks. The LP is out October 5.
Estrons - Body
Guitar music never died. It just went out of fashion for a while and has recently been enjoying an exciting resurgence lately. That buzz has returned and there is magic in the air again. One reason is the many legendary acts from the 90s reaching a second peak, another is the amount of amazing new bands coming through. The current crop of British groups is the best we've had since the late 90s. One of them is the Welsh trio Estrons, who have just released an excellent new track called 'Bodies'.
A thrilling, hard-hitting monster of a song, railing against shallow, vapid, image-obsessed social media culture, with fierce, blistering riffs, furious, stormy drums and killer vocals from Tali Källström that suggest she is not a person to fuck with. Discussing 'Body', Källström offers; “Resist the paradigms of our digital world, that demands a status of sanitised and pristine physical attractiveness, regardless of truth or fact. Choose not to follow. Search for truth in yourself.”
Having just supported Garbage on their recent UK tour, Estrons are preparing to release their much-anticipated debut album. You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough will be out on October 5th, an LP described as "the culmination of over two years hard touring and honing of a sound that has become theirs and theirs alone."
Suede - Flytipping
Like many of the other legendary indie bands who graced the 90s, Suede are right back on their very best form, making music that sounds and FEELS essential. Many would argue that Brett Anderson and his group have been creatively revived ever since their 2003 split was followed by a brilliant comeback earlier this decade. 2013 saw the release of the anthemic Bloodsports, while 2016's Night Thoughts took a step into darker introspection. It seems that Suede are on a roll; The Blue Hour is the best album of the trilogy, and the band's grandest, most epic record yet.
As the shadowy closer 'Flytipping' sprawls out to achieve an ambitious and triumphant closing moment, the picture completes itself very nicely. Alternating solemn, graceful orchestral sounds with raw, swaggering rock n roll, bursting with terrific guitars, The Blue Hour shows Suede reaching upwards and outwards to create a work of magnificent, epic beauty. Suede will be playing UK and European tour dates in October. Read a full review of the album HERE.
The Coral - Reaching Out For A Friend
Another wonderful track from The Coral, who have become the experts at producing splendid, distinctly Liverpool-flavoured psychedelic pop. This one comes with a brightly coloured animated video too. The song is from their recent seventh album 'Move Through The Dawn'.
Signed albums, limited edition vinyl and cassettes are available exclusively on the official online store, alongside ’Into The Void’, a new book from The Coral’s keyboardist, Nick Power. ‘Into The Void’ is a first-hand account of the recording, release and touring of the band's album ‘Distance Inbetween’.
Muse - The Dark Side
It's bound to be divisive, but I'm enjoying Muse's new space-age power ballad sound. Complete with another sci-fi flavoured video featuring Matt Bellamy in his flashy futuristic sports car, 'The Dark Side' is another song from the upcoming album 'Simulation Theory'. It comes out on November 9 and has sleeve art recalling Star Wars and Stranger Things.
Pre-order Simulation Theory through the band’s Official Shop for early access to tickets for Muse’s 2019 tour: http://simulationtheory.muse.mu/
Parquet Courts - Freebird II
Another superb track is taken from the American band's sixth studio album 'Wide Awake!' On working with producer Danger Mouse, frontman Andrew Savage said, "I personally liked the fact that I was writing a record that indebted to punk and funk, and Brian’s a pop producer who’s made some very polished records. I liked that it didn’t make sense."
"There's this duality between joy and anger that I find to be really interesting, and that's something the record kind of deals with at large. I always thought it was really interesting how hardcore could be such an angry music form but could make you feel so positive. There's a lot of moments on the record when all of us are singing at the same time and I guess that's something I kind of associate with hardcore, or Funkadelic."
Slaves - Bugs
This is the sort of thing that has put a rocket up the arse of British music recently. Punk duo Slaves released their third album 'Acts Of Fear And Love' a few weeks ago, scoring another Top 10 chart entry in the process. The fearsome blast of 'Bugs' is a razor sharp moment, seething with brutal energy.
The Living End - Amsterdam
The emotional, Billy Bragg-like 'Amsterdam' is the second track from The Living End’s superb new album Wunderbar, released on September 28. It's the Australian punk rock trio's eighth full length effort, and is their most diverse body of work yet.
Thom Yorke - Suspirum
Alluring, sparse new track from the Radiohead frontman. It comes from Thom Yorke's upcoming 25-track "Suspiria" soundtrack, which is due out Oct. 26 on XL Recordings. The original 1977 horror "Suspiria" was directed by Dario Argento, with a score composed by the Italian rock band Goblin. The 2018 remake also takes place in the 1970s, and is released on Nov. 2.
Yorke talked about composing the film's music: “It was an odd process from the beginning. When Luca [Guadagnino] first came to see me, with the producers and [editor] Walter [Fasano], I just thought they were mad, because I’ve never done a soundtrack before. And ‘Suspiria’ is one of those legendary soundtracks. It took a few months to even contemplate the idea. It was one of those moments in your life where you kind want to run away, but you know you'll regret it if you do."
"I watched the original film several times, and I loved it because it was of that time, an incredibly intense soundtrack. Obviously, Goblin and Dario [Argento] worked incredibly closely when they did it together. But it was of its time and there was no way I could reference it in any way. There was no point, other than what I found interesting was they used repetition of motifs, again and again and again. Part of your mind is saying, ‘Please, I don’t want to hear this anymore.' That was really great. That's sort of hooked me into the whole process."
Yorke added, "There’s a way of repeating in music that can hypnotize. I kept thinking to myself that it’s a form of making spells. So when I was working in my studio, I was making spells. I know it sounds really stupid, but that’s how I was thinking about it. It was a sort of freedom I’ve not had before. I’m not working in the format of song arrangement. I’m just exploring ... It was a really cool way to totally immerse myself in an area that I normally wouldn't go, with full permission."
Paul McCartney - I Don't Know/Fuh You
It’s become a long-running cliche over the years to enthusiastically declare that Paul McCartney has "returned to form" pretty much every time he's released anything since The Beatles that wasn’t terrible. This time, his new album Egypt Station contains more brilliant Macca moments than anything he’s made in years. Although it thrives on a surprisingly contemporary sound, at the same time much of it recalls various points of his long as me illustrious career. The highlights include the stunning Abbey Road-like 'I Don’t Know', a beautifully soulful track which ranks as one of his very best.
McCartney said: "I liked the words 'Egypt Station.' It reminded me of the 'album' albums we used to make... 'Egypt Station' starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from."
There's also the upbeat ‘Come On Me’, and ‘Confidente’, a touching acoustic ode to his old guitar. Aside from the gorgeous ‘Hand In Hand', when you get past the first few tracks, the best stuff remaining is the material that doesn’t sound much like McCartney at all: the hugely divisive Coldplay-on-viagra singalong 'Fuh You', the closing medley ‘Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link’, the odd bossa nova of 'Back In Brazil’, and the Chic-like 'Caesar Rock'. Elsewhere, the epic multi-part 'Despite Repeated Warnings' is a bit of an awkward, disjointed listen, it’s lyrics concerning a ship with a dangerous captain at the helm, in what is probably a political metaphor. Brilliant and flawed, but this time brilliant shines more noticeably. 8/10 is my verdict.
Gorillaz - Trans
Urgent cosmic brilliance from Gorillaz, featuring wondrous synths and 80s electro vibes. Damon Albarn's virtual group have released a new video for this track from the highly recommended recent album 'The Now Now'. It's a set of songs that provide a noticeable contrast to last year's 'Humanz'. Whereas that album and its predecessors were often very busy in terms of arrangements and full of guest vocalists, 'The Now Now' relies more on the masterful songwriting skills of Albarn and his production methods.
The Orb - The End Of The End
The brilliant opening track from the ambitious, eclectic new LP 'No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds'. This one finds their trademark ambient dub house sounds combining with enchanting soul-pop songwriting, with vocals from Emma Gillespie. 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.” One of 2018's best albums and the finest Orb record in many years, it sounds amazing on limited edition blue vinyl (which I think is still available at the time of posting).
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.
Chase And Status ft. Cutty Ranks - Retreat 2018
It's not often that dubstep and drum n bass sounds feature on Rewind/Fast Forward, but they have to be exceptionally brilliant to do so. This single from London duo Chase And Status is packed with old-school jungle flavours and is a remake of a 1980's track by dancehall legend Cutty Ranks.
Chase and Status are one of the most commercially successful acts associated with drum N bass and dubstep, with multi-platinum albums, numerous charting singles, and production work for major artists like Snoop Dogg and Rihanna. Consisting of dance DJs and record-label owners Saul Milton and Will Kennard, with additional live performers, the group combine cutting-edge beats and production techniques with elements of rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, and other styles, resulting in energetic tracks fit for the club as well as the radio.
Orbital - The End Is Nigh
The masterful electronic duo Orbital have just released their first album in six years, and it's excellent. Monsters Exist is a dynamic piece of work, balanced between dark, heavy, dreamy, upbeat and euphoric moods, and full of tracks filled with hugely satisfying and proudly weird synth sounds.
After an ecstatically received series of reunion shows in 2017, the techno giants have spent 2018 playing a string of high-profile festival dates and headline shows across Europe. Having rebuilt their partnership as a live force, the new record displays that their future is bright in terms of creativity and continued relevance. The full-length album version of the slightly Daft Punk-like 'The End Is Nigh' dips into techno-funk, lit up by brightly sizzling pads that beam across its thick beats.
While Monsters Exist starts and ends without much clarity, everything in between shows the duo hitting with full force. The deluxe edition features a number of excellent tracks that would be more than worthy of inclusion on the main record and adds to a package that more than makes up for the duo's six-year absence. Strange, varied and admirably fresh, Monsters Exist is a great addition to the Orbital catalogue and one of the decade's best electronic albums.
Read the full review HERE, where you can also listen to the album in full.
Disclosure - Where You Come From/Where Angels Fear To Tread
Last month in August, Disclosure released five brand new tracks online, all of them more than worthy of a listen. The vibrant 'Where You Come From' is a fine bit of house filled with African flavours. A new album is due for release next year. Speaking about the track, the duo said: "'Where You Come From' samples the incredible Sudanese artist Kamal Keila and a few other tracks from the amazing record label Habibi Funk."
The blissful 'Where Angels Fear To Tread' gives off an alluring summer vibe. It samples a version of 'Fools Rush In' by The Four Freshmen, which Disclosure say was "one of the earliest groups to incorporate advanced jazz harmony into this style and inspired the likes of The Beach Boys."
Brix And The Extricated - Prime Numbers
Untamed energy and fantastic riffs from Brix And The Extricated, taken from their new album Breaking State. The LP is out on 26th October. Lead track ‘Prime Numbers’ is "about sacred geometry and mathematics as the language of the universe. Non-physical consciousness and chaos magic.” Featuring the iconic Brix Smith-Start and other former members of The Fall, the band embark on a UK tour in October and November.
The cover art for Breaking State was designed by the renowned comic book illustrator Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl, 2000AD, Gorillaz, Judge Dredd, Ramones).
The Smashing Pumpkins - Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)
Breezy, gleaming new music from The Smashing Pumpkins. It's taken from the band's first album in four years, and the first to feature James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain since 2000. After splitting 18 years ago, frontman Billy Corgan relaunched the group in 2006 with a revolving cast of different musicians, before reuniting with original members Iha and Chamberlain. 'Shiny and Oh So Bright Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.' will be released on November 16.
Jon Hopkins - Singularity
Hard-hitting bass, cascading beats and a track that builds brilliantly. It's the title track from the superb 'Singularity', the fifth full-length LP from British electronic genius Jon Hopkins, released earlier this year in May.
Low - Disarray
The new album from Low is a major departure from their previous work. Putting down the acoustic guitars and folk sounds in favour of cold electronic tones, 'Double Negative' was released on September 15, gathering a lot of acclaim. The pulsing 'Disarray' is a beautiful moment.
White Lies - Time To Give
White Lies have announced the details of their forthcoming fifth album, entitled Five. The LP will be released in February 2019. From it here is the brilliant lead single 'Time To Give'. The band said: “This is a milestone record for White Lies. It marks our decade as a band, which has pushed us to expand our sound and reach new territory artistically – it marks the start of a new and exciting chapter for us.”
The record was produced by Ed Buller, who also worked on two previous White Lies albums, along with engineer James Brown (Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters), and renowned producer Flood.
She Makes War - Undone
'Undone' is another excellent track from 'Brace For Impact', the fourth album from Bristol-based indie rock multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd, aka She Makes War. Written in a daze the day after Laura’s grandmother Constance died last May, ‘Undone’’s monster guitars deliver palpable rage at the bad things that happen to good people, the song acting as an openhearted rallying cry against the British stiff upper lip brigade. “We need to give ourselves a break”, she says. “Giving ourselves time to feel devastated doesn’t make us weak.”
‘I was told I feel things too much’, she sang on 2016’s “Paper Thin” (featuring guest vocals by Belly’s Tanya Donelly), but with age, experience and the bitter state of the world comes confirmation empathy should be treasured as a rare strength.
The Prodigy - Light Up The Sky
British electronic legends The Prodigy unleash another slamming chunk of chaos from the upcoming seventh album 'No Tourists'. Released on November 2, the album's cover photo depicts a Routemaster bus on route 7 with its destination being The Four Aces in Dalston where the band played their first gig in 1990, perhaps hinting at a return to their rave roots. Liam Howlett explained that its title refers to the album's theme of escapism, "and they want and need to be derailed. Don't be a tourist – there is always more danger and excitement to be found if you stray from the set path". According to Howlett, No Tourists will display the same amount of aggression as previous albums, "but in a different way"
Django Django - Swimming At Night
Hot on the heels of their fine third album 'Marble Skies', art-rock combo Django Django are releasing an EP featuring six brand new tracks. The insanely catchy 'Swimming At Night' comes from the upcoming 'Winter's Beach', which is out October 12.
Kelly Moran - Helix
Long Island-based composer, producer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Moran has signed to Warp Records. The wondrous 'Helix' is taken from the forthcoming new album ‘Ultraviolet’ out 2 November. According to the label, the record "plays to a wider, more arresting array of stylistic influences: dazzling inflexions of jazz and dream pop, neoclassical and black metal, darkness and light, encapsulated in a single, mystifying LP."
September 2018 was one of the greatest months for music in living memory. It also saw the release of amazing albums from bands including Menace Beach, whose top-notch 'Black Rainbow Sound' was reviewed HERE. The Blinders released their fearsome debut 'Columbia', Aphex Twin unleashed the brilliantly weird 'Collapse' EP, Bristol trio Beak> released their third album >>>, and last but certainly not least, there was Spiritualized's magnificent comeback 'And Nothing Hurt', one of their finest works.