The bad news: If you’re looking for some big-name releases this week, you’re outta luck. The good new: There are plenty of excellent indie offerings that deserve your time, attention and cash. Here are half a dozen that caught my eye:
New Long Leg
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Dry Cleaning’s guitarist Tom Dowse, drummer Nick Buxton, and Lewis Maynard had been friends and musical collaborators for years; at first Dry Cleaning was simply their latest project, formed after a karaoke night and based out of the miniscule garage next to the house of Maynard’s mum. One day, however, after a mutual friend’s exhibition, Dowse played some snippets of what they’d been working on to Florence Shaw, a visual artist, picture researcher and drawing lecturer. A few days later, she came to his flat armed with a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music, and later still started contributing words of her own. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, her dryness, wit, and linguistic acrobatics acting as the perfect counter to the musicians’ taut instrumentals. Eventually they produced two thrilling EPs, 2019’s Sweet Princess and Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks. On stage, the contrast between the stillness of Shaw and the emphatic energy of Dowse and Maynard became even more pronounced. They swapped influences from Black Sabbath to Augustus Pablo to Yuzo Koshiro. “It all absorbed,” says Dowse. “Then when we got back to writing, we felt like we were drawing very organically from a collective palette.”
Flock of Dimes
Head of Roses
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On her second full-length record Head of Roses, Jenn Wasner follows a winding thread of intuition into the unknown and into healing, led by gut feelings and the near-spiritual experience of visceral songwriting. The result is a combination of Wasner’s ability to embrace new levels of vulnerability, honesty and openness, with the self-assuredness that comes with a decade-plus career as a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and prolific collaborator. Simply put, Head of Roses is a record about heartbreak, but from a dualistic perspective. It’s about the experience of having one’s heart broken and breaking someone else’s heart at the same time. But beyond that, it’s about having to reconcile the experience of one’s own pain with the understanding that it’s impossible to go through life without being the source of great pain for someone else. “Part of the journey for me has been learning to take responsibility for the parts of things that are mine, even when I’m in a lot of pain through some behavior or action of someone else. If I’m expecting to be forgiven for the things I’ve done and the choices I’ve made and the mistakes that I’ve made, it would be incredibly cowardly and hypocritical to not also do the work that’s required to forgive others the pain they caused me.”
Half Drunk Under a Full Moon
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “If you thought you knew The Fratellis, think again. Half Drunk Under A Full Moon, the Glasgow band’s sixth album, is a kaleidoscopic delight full of surprises, from its flamboyant title track and lush songs steeped in brass and strings to twists on the stomping sing-alongs with which the trio first found fame. “On the last record we broadened our sound by trying out new ideas, all of which I think worked,” says Jon Fratelli, the band’s lead singer and sole songwriter. “With this album, the plan was to push those ideas even further.” Recorded in L.A. with producer and long-time collaborator Tony Hoffer (Beck, Phoenix, Supergrass), Half Drunk Under A Full Moon boasts several firsts for a band that released their landmark debut Costello Music back in 2006. It is the first album where backing singers were brought in to bolster the huge choruses, and where the same characters from the last record return to stalk a lot of the lyrics. The most significant change though is in the style of the album, the result of a new approach to writing where the desired sound was decided upon first, which in turn dictated the songs.”
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “we wrote it on the road mostly. when that was still a place.
and then recorded it in masks later, distanced at the beginning of the second wave.
it was autumn, and the falling sun was impossibly fat and orange.
we tried to summon a brighter reckoning there,
bent beneath varied states of discomfort, worry and wonderment.
this record is about all of us waiting for the end.
all current forms of governance are failed.
this record is about all of us waiting for the beginning,
and is informed by the following demands=
empty the prisons
take power from the police and give it to the neighbourhoods that they terrorise.
end the forever wars and all other forms of imperialism.
tax the rich until they’re impoverished.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Led by songwriter/singer Etienne de Rocher, Haunted Shed features Athens, GA mainstays including guitarist Dan Nettles (Kenosha Kid), drummer Joe Rowe (The Glands) and bassist/cellist Jacob Morris (Vic Chesnutt, Patterson Hood). Faltering Light was co-produced with Etienne and Drew Vandenberg (Of Montreal, Toro Y Moi, Kishi Bashi). Haunted Shed originally formed when Etienne needed a band to provide musical ambiance for an impromptu haunted house in his backyard shed on Halloween. Once they started playing, however, Etienne explains, “The songs sprang to life. The sleepy, folky soul I had been mining in the Bay Area was all but gone and replaced with edgy, pulsing gothic soundscapes. I was a musician again and finally an Athenean.” While the elements of Haunted Shed radiate with the resonance of indie rock’s heyday, this is not the now common sound of young musicians endearingly affecting the ’90s. One need only listen to hear the experience that comes through in their musicianship. These guys lived through those years and have taken that sound to new heights with the innovative and carefully crafted album that is Faltering Light.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With a band name mingled from album titles by John Coltrane and Sun Ra one might expect Mythic Sunship to be jazz band. However, this is not quite the case, although the Copenhagen quartet shares a similar sense of exploration and general untamedness with that of the two masters of cosmic jazz. The destination is transcendence alright, but the vehicle, ultimately, is assembled from decades of ROCK! Not your dad’s rock exactly (unless your dad hung out in Münich or Wümme in the early 1970s, that is), but nonetheless ROCK, where ferocious drum-pounding and thick, Geezery basslines adds fuel to an endless pyre of blazed-out dual fuzz guitar action. This stuff is wild. With five acclaimed releases in as many years, Mythic Sunship have rapidly established themselves among Europe’s finest purveyors of psychedelic music, bridging the gap between heavy riff worshipping and expansive, free jazz-tinged experimentation. Not ones to rest on their laurels, Mythic Sunship went back to the drawing board in search of fresh ideas and new approaches to their self-styled “anaconda rock”. Wildfire is the exhilarating result, simultaneously showcasing Mythic Sunship’s scorched-earth, visceral approach as well as their penchant for crafting epic journeys through time and space.”