Iggy Pop – ‘Post Pop Depression’
Label: Caroline International
Holy shit! Now that’s truly one proper comeback and it leaves us, well, deeply impressed. Almost exactly six months after IGGY POP’s last vital sign on NEW ORDER’s latest record Music Complete where he did a powerful, monstrous spoken word performance on the track Stray Dog, James Newell Osterberg returns with Josh Homme (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE), Dean Fertita (QOTSA, THE DEAD WEATHER) and Matt Helders (ARCTIC MONKEYS) only to release one of his finest solo albums to date.
Post Pop Depression is more than the outcome of a so-called super group or the result of a bunch of creative people hanging around in Homme’s home studios. This is IGGY POP. This record’s got a soul. It’s powerful, emotional, and rough. There is anger in POP’s voice, ‘Death is a pill, it’s hard to swallow’, he declares. None of the nine new songs sound alike. Very often the tracks last between four and six minutes. IGGY doesn’t care about traditional sound patterns. The songs show love for a variety of details, Sunday being a good example for the evolution of sound within only one song. It starts out almost funky, Iggy is on top, but then a sweet female voice takes over right before it all ends with a Hollywood-style string passage. That’s not all. The guitars on Break Into Your Heart are so sharp they’ll cut your onions while you’re cooking. Vulture, on the other hand, starts out so cool that it could be the theme of a Tarantino movie. No matter what song you listen to, it’s all amazing and impressive. The sheer diversity of the sound and the strong vocal performances are toxic, you can’t escape the ghost of IGGY POP floating around on this record. You’ll be haunted once you’ve started listening. Shall this be his last one? If so, it’s a strong statement and he will leave with a big bang. But, honestly, the record’s so brilliant we hope that it’s not. One way or another, he’ll be heard. It’s 2016 and IGGY POP still has Lust for Life. (Chris Hegholtz)
Primal Scream – ‘Chaosmosis’
Label: First International/ Ignition Records
PRIMAL SCREAM are back. Unlike their latest record More Light from 2013, Chaosmosis has way more pop than psychedelic appeal. There’s Trippin On Your Love that is nearly as anthemic as PRIMAL SCREAMs notorious song Rocks. Or Feeling Again which feels as if it was taken right out of a 90s video game. And of course there are wisely chosen guest artists such as HAIM (100%Or Nothing, Trippin’ On Your Love), SKY FERREIRA (Where The Light Gets In) or CAT EYES’ Rachel Zeffira (Private Wars). In the end, is – as the rather weirdly Carnival Of Fools already suggests – a colourful and exciting fun fair.
There are songs full of sugar, others full of excitement and also mystery. As Ronan Keating once put it: ‘Life is a rollercoaster’ – so is Chaosmosis. You just gotta ride it. Or listen to it over and over again. Because who know’s how the next PRIMAL SCREAM record is gonna sound like? (Louisa Zimmer)
HÆLOS – ‘Full Circle’
Label: Matador Records
Ever since British three-piece HÆLOS made a first musical impact last year they slowly but steady built up excitement with their unique sounds. A few people were quite quick to declare the official revival of trip-hop but if you look a bit closer to the trio’s debut LP Full Circle it’s far more than that. Still, Arthur Delaney, Dom Goldsmith and Lotti Benardout don’t hide their love for breakbeat infected 90s synthpop with dark undertone (Pray) or the slow moving beats of MASSIVE ATTACK (Earth Not Above). In their brightest moments they sound like a high energy version of good old LAMB (Oracle) or the lovechild of LONDON GRAMMAR and PORTISHEAD (Alone). Benardout’s distinctive voice carries the melancholic little pop gems over the restrained but still forward-thinking beats.
Despite its laconic undertone Full Circle is carried by an uplifting and grooving vibe, that recalls glory days of 90s big-beat and even jungle (Separate Lives) as HÆLOS combine them with an almost spiritual and gospel-like atmosphere. The result is a really sweet twilight soundtrack that is defnitely more pop than it is PORTISHEAD. Full Circle is a synthetic soul album and quite an impressive debut album from a band that has yet to decide whether they want to stick to the more accessible mainstream road or better take an edgier detour. The fact that they are like succeed on both parts speaks for them. (Norman Fleischer)
Damien Jurado – ‘Visions Of Us On The Land’
Label: Secretly Canadian
With Visions Of Us On The Land, the psychedelic/spiritual folk cycle of US songwriter DAMIEN JURADO comes to an end. The third chapter after 2012’s Maraqopa and 2014’s Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son once again delves deep into subconscious travelling of a semi-fictional alter ego that leaves society in order to discover some elemntal truths. But does this feel like JURADO has come to an actual end? No, the road he has taken probably hasn’t got an end at all. JURADO opened up recently about the point from which this whole journey started, his personal struggles, suicide attempts and an ongoing feeling of displacement. Against this background, there’s even more to gain from his opus magnum.
A singular observation of the songs on Visions Of Us On The Land might lead you to the simple conclusion: Nice, mildly tripping folk meets psychedelic roots rock; but zooming out gives you an incredible perspective on this body of work. It’s the work of a man whose religiosity seems outdated in our cynical, post-ideologic, post-spiritual times; whose obsession with sci-fi-stories translates in a much too nerdy way for most of the ’emotional, folky guitar guy’-niche. But still, this is the work of a man who’s blatantly writing from the within, living up to his own lyrics: ‘Out there is nowhere and inside is endless’. DAMIEN JURADO is – in a very pleasing way – far away from selling a product here. He’s come back to the simple yearning of an artist to ‘connect’. Which isn’t all that easy and as a listener you’ll probably have to get rid of a lot of preconceptions first. But when you do, you’ll sense that this is auratic music. Something that has become a rare good in contemporary pop music. (Henning Grabow)
Underworld – ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future’
My friend and self proclaimed ‘club kid’ Vulcan can remember a time when he’d party until 9am, roll into work at 10 and be back shouting ‘Lager Lager Lads’ at midnight. 1990s electronic music was just sublime and UNDERWORLD were champions of it. The British duos new record, Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future, seems to return to bands 1990s sound if with a slight mellow. This record is utopian in parts and reestablishes the duos electronic music royalty, it being their first album in half a decade. The opening track, I Exhale, does not disappoint. Its magnitude is felt both lyrically and in its bass. ‘Life/It’s like a touch/Everything is golden/Open’. Seamlessly meaning nothing but saying everything, the vague lyrics underpin the duos lyrical idiosyncrasies.
Ridiculous yet poetic ‘the origin of numbers is a questionable hypothesis’ is a highlight lyric from If Rah. What does it all try to say? And do we need to know to appreciate it’s genius? Each track is long but feels like an electronic trance journey. The title looks to the future and in many ways this record says true to their old sound but with a contemporary edge. Vulcan’s days seem to be returning and UNDERWORLD‘s status unquestioned. Barbara, Barbara we face a shining future just as Karl Hyde and Rick Smith do. (Hannah Fahy)
Kakkmaddafakka – ‘KMF’
Label: Bergen Mafia/Believe Digital/Soulfood Music
Let’s not beat around the bush: KAKKMADDAFAKKA’s Six Months is a Long Time, released in 2013, was a dreary affair. It failed to add anything particularly new, interesting, or sustainable to the band’s catalogue except for that fabulous ROOSEVELT remix of Someone New. Consequently, the indie press might have already been concerned: Would that lovely bunch of Norwegian lads sink into obscurity? Well, the good news is that they did not. KAKKMADDAFAKKA played some festival gigs during the summer of 2015 and proved what they’re truly good at: performing. Therefore, it is all the more surprising that the largely self-produced KMF marks a return to form for the band, the newest release being their finest and most coherent work to date.
KMF is a wonderful end of summer record whose strength lies in its consistent, yet versatile sound. All new songs deliver the impression of a band that loves playing together, showing their preference for a warm, rich, and detailed sound. While the first single Galapagos features beautiful minimalist guitar work that lets you calm down, the piano melody of Young You makes you get up again as it asks you for dance. No Cure, on the other hand, sees the band drift into reggaeton. There is a lot of longing and melancholia in the voice of singer Axel Vindenes. The topics and themes of the lyrics have remained the same: girls, love, relationship – but there is a common knowledge that nothing is to remain, be it the perfect summer holidays (‘Nod at the locals, knowing that we’re not going to stay’) or a relationship coming to its end (‘But now I’m % okay without you’). KMF turns out to be an exploration of life and loss. Its beautiful soundscape lets us celebrate life as much as it reminds us of its end. KMF has now become a code, a formula. There is no need to spell it all out anymore. It hints at a band that has finally found their own sound that establishes them as one of Norway’s finest indie band around. Welcome back! Hopefully, you’re here to stay. (Chris Hegholtz)
Liima – ‘ii’
When bands merge or musicians join together in unlikely collaborations to create a new kind of music, it’s always slightly difficult. Merging two different musical styles seamlessly and successfully together is often a challenge. Especially if it involves breaking from a sound as definite and unique as the one of EFTERKLANG. Another obstacle lies in bringing two respective audiences together and still satisfying both. It’s a creative challenge welcomed by EFTERKLANG and the Finnish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö with their joined band LIIMA. The sounds of their debut album ii are familiar, yet strange. Some things changed, and some didn’t.
The underlying and all-consuming vocals are an inherent reminder of EFTERKLANG‘s previous records. Those are mixed with Rönkkö’s drum beats. Slow and spheric meets industrial and mechanic. The need to experiment takes the upper hand, using a variety of instruments and electronic sounds. At times confusing mix of styles and wildly changing tempos remind of múm’s bizarre and brilliant Smilewound. Grungy guitar riffs and penetrating 80s drum beats are carrying the tune of Trains In The Dark and the use of faraway trumpets in Russians is an ingenious use of folklore elements, making for one of the best songs on the record. On a whole the album has a lengthy feel, but after all EFTERKLANG have always got away with stretched-out live performances of their songs. Embracing the change of time and reinvention, LIIMA‘s debut is a well rounded LP with the potential to sound even better live. (Nora Hiller)