For our first article of 2022 we look through some of our favourite releases of January plus one we missed at the tail end of last year. Here’s 6 releases we’ve enjoyed this month.
Bas Jan – Baby U Know (Lost Map)
We’ve been eagerly awaiting this album for months now. The now four-piece have expanded their already glorious sound, becoming not only funkier in the process but taking a more experimental approach at times. Still, this is all wrapped up in a familiar parcel of pristine pop. ‘Baby U Know’ simply oozes confidence. This pandemic product, whilst sometimes intense in subject matter is truly uplifting throughout. ‘Baby U Know’ is 2022’s first great album. Full review incoming soon.
FFO Serafina Steer, The Slits, The Raincoats, Hen Ogledd, Ravioli Me Away, Trash Kit, Cocteau Twins
Beneather – Dream Gaze (WIAIWYA)
Beneather is a solo project from The Leaf Library member Lewis Young. Dreamgaze, his first single, is a hypnotic piece of ambient post rock. It’s subtle yet expansive with gorgeously plaintive vocals that would no doubt appeal in equal measures to fans of Grouper, Julia Holter, Mogwai and Sigur Ros, aswell as Lewis’s better known project. The single is released today via WIAIWYA with an album to follow in May.
FFO Grouper, Julia Holter, The Leaf Library, Mogwai, Sigur Ros
Fluid Tower – The Back EP (Gob Nation)
Weird electro indie courtesy of Garden Centre genius Max Levy. Toned down the theatricality somewhat but his peculiar voice is still front and centre. It’s more beautiful and reflective in this setting. He has successfully translated his guitar indie melodies into sample based lo-fi synth pop. This feels very much the product of necessity, having to move away from a band based approach but it’s refreshing to hear. A sweet, subtle and all too short-lived EP. It hints at something very exciting if Levy were to take this into more longform realisation.
FFO Garden Centre, Xiu Xiu
Sad Eyed Beatniks – Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver (Meritorio/Paisley Shirt)
San Francisco’s Sad Eyed Beatniks has traditionally been a product of spontaneity, with Kevin Percy Linn recording songs immediately or almost immediately after writing them. Linn’s approach is intensely DIY. He plays every instrument, records and produces himself. On “Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver” he retains this home grown feeling whilst having honed the songwriting more.
The result is a gloriously crooked album of Beat Happening-cum-Television Personalities-by-way-of-Galaxie 500 indie pop full of shimmering guitar jangle. He’s the sort of artist that would have fit right in on Rough Trade in the late 80s/early 90s. The approach is consistent. Simple bass lines and minimal drums allow the guitars to jitter and scratch over the top while Linn’s Dean Wareham-esque vocal provides the sweetness. There’s a smattering of Sebadoh-esque lo-fi samples while the melodies on songs like “The Snows of Success” and “Ring Around Annie” would appeal to fans of the brilliant aforementioned Garden Centre. With the lo-fi home recorded quality, playful spirit and melodic ear this naturally draws some comparisons to Daniel Johnston.
FFO Beat Happening, Daniel Johnston, Galaxie 500, Garden Centre, Television Personalities
Sassyhiya – Gum Demos EP (Self-released)
Half of the amazing Barry, Sassyhiya are Helen Skinner and Katherine Wright. They have just followed up on their split EP with Barry bandmate Mark Amura’s Sharing Is Caring, for their debut EP outright. Here they marry all the charm of Barry with a lo-fi, rhythmic delight. This is no surprise with them providing the rhythm section of their better known project. The duetted melodies and guitar syncopation are sweet; at times recalling the solo work of Rachel Aggs and Bas Jan. Of course, as with their better known projects they still retain their Terry-esque sense of fun. This is genius lo-fi indie pop.
FFO Barry, Bas Jan, Rachel Aggs, Terry
Yarraman – Firmament EP (Venn Records)
Yarraman are a four piece post-hardcore band from London. Taking influence from Dischord and SST bands, they formed in 2017. The band features former members of Crash of Rhinos, The Tupolev Ghosts, with drummer Andy Jenkin also a current member of the fantastic Life Drawings.
Like any punk band worth their salt there is a strong political consciousness to their furious sound on this their second EP, released back in December. They Explore themes of post-Brexit Britain, misogyny and mental health. From the off there’s a needly intensity with the guitars at time recalling At The Drive-In and The Jesus Lizard while the vocals bear resemblance to IDLES’ Joe Talbot minus the clumsy preachy sloganeering.
FFO At The Drive-In, IDLES, The Jesus Lizard