Somehow we’re already half way through the year. Where does the time go? It only feels like a week ago I was writing up the April listening and now we’ve zoomed through May. Here are six releases we listened to that made our May, taking in artists from UK, Australia, South Korea and Mexico!:
Bird’s Eye Batang – Flood Format
The mysterious artist behind Mid-Air Thief is finally back with brand new music! Flood Format is 8 new tracks that follow up 2018’s glorious cult hit ‘Crumbling’. Released under the moniker Bird’s Eye Batang, what’s immediately striking is that this is a lot more in your face.
It makes sense that he’s used a different name for this project. But no, it’s not anything to do with Fish Fingers.
Opener “Slippery Smile” is an abstract electronic intro full of warped weirdness. “Tongue Tracers” only ups this new found intensity with its crazed nightmare gameshow chords and broken computer game noises. The album takes a more ethereal approach on “Spin & Stone”. A glitchy vibraphone sets the rhythm as ghostly delayed vocals wash below. It is split into several distinct sections, cutting out before picking up pace with a squelchy bass, then moving on to a more ambient section. It’s like a disjointed suite of sketches.
On the whole, it’s bolder than his Mid-Air Thief works.
“Ripplippling”, for example features some spoken word fragments of almost rapped vocals while oscillating keys sit firmly in the foreground. It makes way for the short and scrambled “Towards”. This really feels like a collage. “Brux Batang” shapeshifts at several intervals and exists somewhere in the realm between the bolder abstract moments of Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’ and Aphex Twin’s ‘Come To Daddy’. At points it’s almost Stockhausen-esque in its absurdity. The album retains this feeling throughout, never really feeling settled.So, not at all what I was expecting upon pressing play but maybe that’s a good thing. The intricacies remain but it feels like a series of wacky idents rather than a fully realised album.
You may enjoy this if you like Mid-Air Thief, Radiohead, Aphex Twin
Say Sue Me – The Last Thing Left
Korean indie rockers Say Sue Me have returned after four years away with ’The Last Thing Left’. It really doesn’t seem that long since ‘Where We Were Together’ came out to such great acclaim but the last few years have melded together. ’The Last Thing Left’ picks up where we left off. It’s packed with gorgeously crafted indie rock and indie pop. ’The Memory Of The Time’ is a roomy instrumental with lush, lightly delayed guitars washing over a constant bass pulse. It recalls Yo La Tengo’s “Return To Hot Chicken” with its blissed out ambience.
Whether intentional or not Yo La Tengo have felt like a constant source of comparison for this band.
They possess a similar versatility and aesthetic appeal. “Still Here”, meanwhile, is like Pavement fronted by Victoria Bergsman of The Concretes. Sumi Choi’s vocal is often uncannily similar to that of Bergsman and that is no bad thing. It also displays the band’s guitar chops. The blistering burst of guitar noise towards the end is majestic.
Their range is as satisfying as ever. The album takes in groovy indie pop (We Look Alike), punk jangle (No Real Place) and dreamlike surf pop (Photo Of You). Their first album since the tragic passing of drummer Kang Semin ’The Last Thing Left’ is emotionally charged and at times melodically stunning. The aforementioned “Photo Of You” is case in point. It builds to a glorious climax of fuzzed out guitars alongside Choi’s impassioned vocal.
There is a sense of urgency and released tension in this album that cuts through like never before.
Each melody feels really purposeful. The title track is another rousing moment of melodic beauty. This may well be Say Sue Me’s best collection yet.’The Last Thing Left’ is out now via the excellent Damnably.
You may enjoy this if you like Yo La Tengo, Oddly, The Concretes, Pavement
Vintage Crop – Kibitzer
kibitzer • \KIB-it-ser\ • noun. : one who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment.
There are reports of extreme weather conditions, let alone the war in Ukraine, which may well cause severe food shortages, bringing a dark new viewpoint on this band’s name.
But what of the music?
Vintage crop have followed up their excellent 2020 album “Serve To Serve Again” with another collection of supremely confident post punk. They’ve lost none of their edge. The pounding “Casting Calls” is an instant reminder of their angular guitar chops and strutting attitude, Australian accent on full display. They indulge in chanted backing vocals on “The Duke”, which also features some Fall-esque keyboard buzz.There are so many elements of post punk past and present running through the veins of the album. “Double Slants”, for example, has the the chugging rhythms of The Strokes, the retro guitar chops of Omni and the sneer of the short-lived Ikara Colt. The simple rumbling bassline of “Hold The Line” sets the perfect platform to propel the jagged guitar duel and brilliantly dry vocal about scam callers and telesales.
Vintage Crop haven’t really changed anything about their approach but this is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. From the hipshaking rock n roll of “Drafted” to the building 90s style indie rock of “The Bloody War” ‘Kibitzer’ is as catchy as anything they’ve made before. Meanwhile, the rhythmic interplay of “2K Hip Pocket” reveals a darker edge to the music which continues on the ripping “Under Offer”. The rollocking bassline, guitar stabs and taut drums make for the most propulsive and urgent track on ‘Kibitzer’. This is a welcome return from one of Australia’s many brilliant bands of the last few years.
Kibitzer is released 24th June via the always reliable Upset The Rhythm.
You may enjoy this if you like Omni, Ikara Colt, Les Savy Fav
Soup Review – Go and See
The Sheffield based and kind of brilliantly named duo Soup Review have been steadily releasing music since 2018. Their new album ‘Go and See’ follows 2021s ‘Beneath The Big White Moon’. The duo of Mario D’Agostino and Chris Delamere have honed their acoustic antifolk into something melodically sophisticated and quite beautiful. There are hints of Jeffrey Lewis to the strummed opener “Too Long” which also takes in Simon and Garfunkel harmonies and Springsteen-style harmonica (I’m thinking Thunder Road here).
For all these American touches Delamere does not eschew his very English accent, which, at times, recalls the wonderful Milky Wimpshake.
The folk rock of “Mustangs” bears the hallmarks of 70s Neil Young and, in turn, Beck in his folky element. It must be said it also sounds great with multi instrumentalist Zac Barfoot not only providing a large chunk of instrumentation but also taking up production duties.Soup Review certainly have a sense of humour as well as a sense of adventure. “Chesil Beach” is a hilarious acapella track about a car journey that lies somewhere in the untapped space between Richard Dawson and a Mighty Boosh crimp. There’s a lighthearted sensibility throughout and “Memory of a Food Festival” recounts an awkward encounter at a hot sauce stand to Belle & Sebastian indie pop.
The album is peppered with memorable lyrics and upbeat, catchy melodies.
“I Want To See What It Looks Like” is a good example of this. The vocal arrangement is a joy. Soup Review are equally able to sooth. “Foxes” is a sweet, soft and minimal folk song with just a guitar and electronic organ for backing. “Houses By The Sea” has a gentle, almost soul ballad-like chord pattern with a “Stand By Me” style hook.‘Go and See’ is an enjoyable listen from start to finish. It’s released on 17th June via Bingo Records.
You may enjoy this if you like Jeffrey Lewis, Belle & Sebastian, Milky Wimpshake
The Stroppies – Levity
Regular readers will know we’ve been following The Stroppies since their fantastic single “Maddest Moments/Architectural Charades” which displayed their wonderfully loose sensibilities and crooked humour. They now follow up their excellent debut album “Whoosh” with something a little different. The sound palate on Levity is somewhat darker from the off. They have evidently embraced electronics and samples, with “The Perfect Crime” opening on an almost robotic repetitive sample that revolves under the verses. The crooked guitarwork and melodic catchiness is, however, still evident. “Smilers Strange Politely” is a little more familiar.
The dizzy Pavement-esque instrumentation and group vocals a la Terry are a comforting reminder of their charm.
This collection is, on the whole, a lot more focussed sounding. “Material Condition”, for instance, chugs along a repetitive muted chord sequence with a simple drum beat that becomes almost hypnotic. This more straightforward approach may be, in part, down to new member Zoe Monk’s solid rhythm guitar playing.
Thankfully there’s a good mixture of approaches here. For instance “Butchering The Punchline” is slower and more minimal while “Up To My Elbows” is an upbeat, almost Strokes-esque jangle track with Vaselines vocals. There’s a slightly psychedelic edge to the light stomp of “Tricks on Everything” while the vocals recall the brilliant Primo (mainly owing to the band singing in their own accents). “Caveats” has a dreamier feel owing to its light synth bursts and greater sense of space. The Stroppies may have somewhat eschewed their jangliness but have lost none of their melodic sense of fun. As ever, there’s a lot to love about them.
You may enjoy this if you like Pavement, Terry, Primo
Terror Cósmico – Miasma
Terror Cósmico are a doom metal/noise rock guitar and drums duo from Mexico City. Miasma is their fourth album, which comes via the excellent Stolen Body Records. Having not encountered the band before we had no frame of reference via their previous releases. Upon listening to this it’s evident they are masters at making two instruments sound absolutely gigantic. The beefy metal of opener “Necromorfo” is menacing and riff heavy, the band completely eschewing vocals in their aural assault. It sounds massive.
From this opener you could be forgiven for thinking this will be a riff fest, however “En un Lugar frío y desolado” instantly defies this notion.
It’s a cavernous delay soaked Post Rock instrumental that starts delicately before building layers of giant fuzz. At a hefty almost 8 minutes long you might think this would get a little boring with just two instruments but it maintains interest throughout. Things take a monstrous turn on the intense and violent “Carbunco” before taking a softer approach again on “Alguien vendrá desde el condo del mar”.
Naturally this once again reaches an almighty climax and is the first track that could really be labelled doom metal here. They take in wild repetitive riffing and psychedelic noise on “Cepa Mortal” and “Las máquinas colapsan” before the brutalist and knotty epic “Tonalpohualli”. Closer “Se mueren” sees them embrace vocals for the first time on the record with intense distant growls. It makes for a chilling accompaniment to their powerful slow motion riffing. ‘Miasma’ is out now via Stolen Body Records.
You may enjoy this if you like Noxagt, Boris, SUNN 0)))
And thus concludes the six releases that rocked our boat in May. As always there were more but we only have so much time. If you think we might enjoy your new album/ep feel free to get in touch with us and send it our way! We’re always up for hearing something new and may well review it.