Heart-Shaped Scars (SA)
Feels like a lot of these hair-raising time-based pop statistics are cropping up at the moment, but Dot Allison having began her musical career 30 years ago (when One Dove, her early 90s band, released their first 12”) hits pretty hard. Someone who’d made music in 1961 would have been regarded as powerfully geriatric in 1991, indubitably – but honey-voiced Scot Dot, off the radar for a decade-plus focusing on the family, is no kind of nana on comeback album Heart-Shaped Scars, even if its clear-headed folk-rock vibes are on something of an early 70s Laurel Canyon tip.
Following One Dove’s status as dreamy, post-club icons of 90s UK house, Allison’s career has been defined by collaborations with various club culture elder statesmen – such as the late Andy Weatherall, whose influence she says is perpetual. This album, though, is a pleasing breakaway from that millstone, self-produced and featuring an all-female lineup assisting with arrangements. Hannah Peel is one particular talent, directing a string quartet to make opening song Long Exposure some seriously lush chamber-folkage, while the piano-led Cue The Tears borders on the (appropriately) lachrymose but remains stirring enough to have you wondering if it has a path to becoming Dot Allison’s first proper hit single.
words NOEL GARDNER
The Neon Remixed (Mute)
When it comes to cutting-edge remixes, Mute Records has been way ahead of the pack for choosing who gets the job since their early days. Never obvious or overtly commercial picks, François Kevorkian remixed Yazoo at the start of the 1980s, while both William Orbit and P-Funk legend George Clinton remixed Nitzer Ebb. Leftfield added some additional bassbin menace to Renegade Soundwave, and Erasure are no strangers to this type of treatment themselves. Their 1992 charttopper EP Abba-Esque was tackled by industrial pioneers Chris & Cosey and electronic mavericks Fortran 5 – now Mute, the synthpop duo’s long-term label, release a remixed version of latest album The Neon.
Production team Armageddon Turk take Diamond Lies into grittier DAF territory. Paul Humphreys from OMD gives Kid You’re Not Alone a cinematic sheen akin to Cliff Martinez’s Drive OST. Hi-Fi Sean turns Hey Now into a euphoric, psychedelic club banger and Mute studio wiz Gareth Jones goes to town on Nerves Of Steel, this album’s arguable highlight. Remix albums rarely please every listener, but The Neon Remixed seems to have something for even the hardest-to-impress electronic music devotee.
words DAVID NOBAKHT
I Would Not Live Always (River Lea)
Dublin folk singer John Francis Flynn is a first-rate musician, delivering his takes on traditional material without adornment and letting his powerful performances carry the weight. This, his debut album, is not one for the faint-hearted folkie: Flynn’s baritone is a traditional, vibrato-free, thick sound that fans of modern alt-folk may struggle with. But the meaning such a pure voice gives to the words of these yearning ballads, surpasses all thoughts of style.
My Son Tim may be familiar to some as a variation on the popular Mrs McGrath, and there are a couple of Ewan MacColl songs on here too. But the incredible standout is Shallow Brown, a masterclass in delivery and subtle arrangement that sums up everything Flynn is capable of. Except it doesn’t! He’s also a brilliant double tin whistle player – check out his plaintive playing on Tralee Gaol and capable of creating an epic folk triptych in Bring Me Home. Exceptional stuff.
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES
For their second collaboration as Lump, Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of Tunng have produced a continually quirky, forever challenging album. Track after track sidesteps conventional hooks and chord progressions; rhythms verge on prog-folk, complex time signatures and asymmetric patterns stubbornly persisting underneath Marling’s melodies.
The instrumentation is mainly focused on Lindsay’s Eventide synth, tying the sound world to the studio rather than the live folk sound most associated with these artists; the production stretches as far as seamlessly merging each song with the next. Marling’s voice still retains its quality of perma-youth, which clashes well with the dissonant melodies and accompaniments. The most extreme example of which is its most effective track, Paradise – while We Cannot shows the pair can turn out a genuine indie hit without comprising any of their individual aesthetic.
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES
Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry (Surviving Sounds)
From the permafrost-encrusted wastelands of Nottingham come Underdark, who since their inception in 2015 have long threatened to become one of the brightest lights in the UK black metal scene. That promise is now starting to come to fruition with the release of debut album Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry. There’s a fistful of bands in the UK right now working hard to reanimate the corpse of black metal, but Underdark offer something a little different.
Sure, the early Darkthrone savagery is there, along with the punk sensibilities shown by Mayhem back in the day, but there are also elements of doom, prog and even shoegaze thrown in the pot. Lyrically, the band deal with social issues – again, not typical of the genre – and only serves to make this album stand out a little bit further from the crowd. Unholy black metal with heart.
words CHRIS ANDREWS
Advertise with us.
We have a range of options across print and digital.