THIS WEEK’S NEW ALBUMS REVIEWED | FEATURE
Mutator (Sacred Bones)
Sometimes ‘lost’ albums are lost for a reason, and best not found. But the eight songs that make up Mutator weren’t deliberately discarded, merely forgotten about by an artist always eager to move on. Recorded in 1995 and ‘96 during an especially creative period, these tracks have been discovered, dusted down and served up by the late Suicide member’s musical and marital partner Liz Lamere and fellow collaborator Jared Artaud of The Vacant Lots.
While Alan Vega [pictured, top] isn’t likely to be resurrected as a hologram for live performances any time soon, on Mutator he does frequently sound like a man trying to communicate from the other side via séance – his Elvis baritone ringing out amid atmospheric clanking, echoing wails and swirls of disembodied voices on Trinity and Psalm 68 in particular.
As with any posthumous release, it pays to ask who benefits. In this case, thankfully, it’s Vega fans as well as anyone who needs reminding of his extensive influence. Fist is a relentless Kraftwerkian soundtrack to a J G Ballard film, while Nike Soldier is like being cornered down a dark alley by the Knight Rider theme tune. Even the floating melody of Samurai carries a sense of threat, Vega raging over the top “Wake up, it’s finished – IT’S FINISHED!” And yet it isn’t, with the promise of more unreleased material from the “Vega Vault” to come.
words BEN WOOLHEAD
Vital (Southern Lord)
You are always guaranteed a certain amount of sonic abuse from a Southern Lord release and Vital, the newest output from Big|Brave proudly carries on that tradition. The album carries the same aural mood as mid-90s Neurosis, but the discrepancy in that picture comes with the vocal talent of Robin Wattie. Her minimalist yet haunting vocal style reveal the band’s folk roots and are a perfect juxtaposition for the band’s newfound intensity.
Absolutely on point too are the lyrics, dealing with themes at the forefront of the world’s conscience as race and gender are given a thorough examination. Legend has it that Big|Brave came by this new sound quite by accident, after an acoustic guitar mishap forced them to go electric at a gig. So for a band that stumbled onto this sound, it looks very good on them.
words CHRIS ANDREWS
Flat White Moon (Memphis Industries)
From the opening notes of Orion From The Street I knew this album was something special: a catchy sigh of relief in preparation for a carefree summer. The Brewis brothers, who founded Field Music and who began recording tracks for this album in 2019, wanted to create songs that “make people feel good about things that we feel terrible about,” and the result delivers.
Flat White Moon’s eclectic combination of rhythms and catchy pop melodies evoke 60s psychedelic rock. Standout numbers You Get Better and Do Me A Favour experiment with fun and bold combinations, yet behind the grooves and bright notes there’s a distinct sadness to the lyrics. These emotions – of love lost, confusion, and loneliness – feel like a soundtrack to teenage summers, bringing back memories of drinking snakebites in beer gardens with only adventure and time ahead.
Flat White Moon is the strongest offering from the Sunderland band yet: I for one will be playing this album on repeat.
words ELOUISE HOBBS
The Gospel Truth (Golden Robot)
Gilby Clarke will always be known as the guy who replaced Izzy on Guns N’ Roses’ behemoth Use Your Illusion Tour. As he never played on any studio recordings of the band’s original material he’s seen by many – including, supposedly, Axl Rose – as a hired gun. Since the 90s GN’R imploded, this stylish six-string slinger has been earning his crust with artists as diverse as Heart and Nancy Sinatra. But it’s his time with the MC5 that can be heard resonating throughout The Gospel Truth, his first solo album in 20 years.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Clarke’s voice just doesn’t cut through the production of cranked-up guitars and crunching bass. With a different singer, tracks like Rock N Roll Is Getting Louder and Rusted And Busted could have been raised to the same level as Clarke’s guitar playing. There’s some Slash-like swagger to his lines and a real rock’n’roll vibe when the solos kick in, giving the songs a welcome lift. But, without the aggression and attitude of GN’R or the MC5 to shape and sell the music, each song is just a long wait until the solo comes in.
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES
WTF (World Transformation Force) (Fool’s Gold)
To coincide with Earth Day, an annual event to demonstrate support for Environment Protection, Soul Clap are releasing their fourth album on the Brooklyn-based Fool’s Gold label. The DJ and production duo from Boston say WTF is their reaction to what’s happening to this planet called Earth, and the human beings on it.
Over 15 tracks, Soul Clap take us on a journey of underground house, blending elements of r’n’b, garage, hip-hop, funk, and downtempo electronica; the list of guest artists includes Tra’zae Clinton, grandson of funk legend George Clinton. Soul Clap believe that things will get better, and their positive message can be heard throughout, in both lyrics and music – take Back 2 Love and Peace Love Unity And Respect as two examples, while Enough Is Enough is an album highlight.
Soulful and funky, World Transformation Force is a call for radical love and radical hope, and it’s come at the right time.
words EMMA J SMITH