The ever knowledgeable Johnny Feeney returns to the blog once again, sharing an eclectic selection of his favourite records from the year so far.
Always insightful and interesting, his guest posts always add an extra flavour the blog and I for one look forward to reading them – surely I’m not alone?
A huge thanks to Johnny as always, and on that note, I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.
10. Car Seat Headrest – ‘Teens Of Denial’
Virginia’s Will Toledo has been releasing albums prolifically as Car Seat Headrest for a few years now but this is only his second full release on a major label. Seriously overlong at almost 70 minutes, this is by no means perfect, but it also retains the capacity to absolutely blow you away with cracking rock songs such as ‘Fill In The Blanks’ or ‘Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales’.
09. Band of Horses – ‘Why Are You OK’
The fifth studio album from Seattle’s Band of Horses harkens back to the band’s finest moment – 2007’s Cease to Begin – after a not entirely unsuccessful foray into stadium rock over two albums in the interim period. There’s a welcome return of the shimmering guitar lines and melancholic Americana/alt-rock that made them such a beloved band in the first place. Gorgeous.
08. Savages – ‘Adore Life’
The second album from the London-based all-female foursome doesn’t veer wildly from the brooding post-punk of its predecessor, 2013’s Silence Yourself, – all dark basslines, loping guitars and lead singer Jehnny Beth’s anguished vocals. This is certainly not party music. However, there are chinks of light threatening to break out through the pervading gloom.
07. Steve Mason – ‘Meet The Humans’
Former Beta Band founding member Mason’s first album since 2013’s sublime Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time is a lot less immediate than its predecessor. It requires a few listens to unravel the subtle layers but the patient listener will be repaid in spades as the music slowly reveals itself. Utterly captivating.
06. Hinds – ‘Leave Me Alone’
The debut album from this Madrid all-girl four-piece is a joyous, upbeat lo-fi indie rock affair. There’s a neat trick performed here with the loose, ramshackle guitars and lazy, swampy drums in stark contrast with the tightness of the hook-laden, impossibly infectious songs. The sound of a band having a lot of fun and not taking themselves too seriously.
05. DIIV – ‘Is The Is Are’
The Brooklyn band’s second studio album is packed full of dreamy, hypnotic indie rock. Breezy, looping guitars and snapping percussion drive the songs along with lead singer Zachary Cole Smith providing breathy vocals. There’s a real summery feel on here – the songs washing over you almost unnoticeably. Beautiful stuff.
04. Melt Yourself Down – ‘Last Evenings On Earth’
The second studio album from this London collective is bonkers. Free jazz/punk/funk underpinned by tribal rhythms, filthy basslines and the piercing, inventive sax of Pete Wareham (formerly of similarly far out instrumental punk outfit Acoustic Ladyland), listeners get taken on a wild and unpredictable ride. It’s energetic, exhausting, exhilarating. It’s also exceptional.
03. Teleman – ‘Brilliant Sanity’
It takes the London four-piece’s sophomore album less than half a minute to completely draw you in. Opener ‘Dusseldorf’ is an almost perfectly wrought pop song – all stabbing synths, motorik rhythms, soaring harmonies and spiky guitar hooks. Thankfully, the high standard set rarely drops for the remainder. Be warned, some of these tunes will get stuck in your head for days.
02. Cate Le Bon – ‘Crab Day’
The Welsh singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album is a treat of glorious, left-field alt-rock. Le Bon’s slightly haunting vocals and the ever present off-kilter guitars dazzle and delight. ‘I Was Born On The Wrong Day’ sounds like vintage PJ Harvey. The single ‘Wonderful’ is aptly titled and lives up to its name. The relentlessly building closing track ‘What’s Not Mine’ is a work of art, and a fitting sign off to a superb album.
01. Meilyr Jones – ‘2013’
After simultaneous break ups with his partner and his band Race Horses in 2013, Welshman Jones decamped to Rome where he found the inspiration for his first solo album. The resulting work is an astonishing collection of dramatic, uplifting orchestral pop of unending beauty. It’s both high-brow with intricate layers and artistic and literary references, yet still immediately accessible. The incredible depth of the songs is such that even after 15 or 20 listens there’s still something new to be found throughout. No mean feat, Jones has turned a dark time in his life into a joyous triumph.