April was yet another month of loss, with the passing of Prince, but as always, it was a month of gain too. While we lost one of the most prolific musicians in history, music kept going. Here's what we were listening to:
1. PJ Harvey: A Line In The Sand
Based on her trips and recordings in Washington, Kosovo and Afghanistan, The Hope Six Demolition Project continues PJ Harvey’s exploration of the atrocities of war. While the album has drawn criticism from Washington politicians and critics for failing to come up with solutions to the problems she highlights, there’s no doubting the defiance and strength of tracks like ‘A Line In The Sand’. Eerie textures, overt lyrics and a crunchy jungle rhythm make this a must-listen.
2. Nerve Leak: DR34M5
Virginia’s Nerve Leak shares a shivering electronic apology in ‘DR34M5’, which slides by in a sea of ambient echoes and heavy beats. A certain amount of distrust rules over the track, with Nerve Leak singing "Cause baby, I don’t know enough about me to give me to you." It’s all over the place in terms of influence, but not in a bad way.
3. Weezer: Thank God For Girls
As part of their 4th self-titled album, with the tongue-in-cheek suggested title The White Album, Weezer are re-discovering some of their earlier fun after a troubling few years. ‘Thank God For Girls’ typifies the sunny punch and vigour that energises all the tracks on Weezer – with the mega-stardom currently surrounding 21 Pilots suggesting that angst might be creeping back into mainstream music, ‘Thank God For Girls’ shows a band that sound half their age.
4. Xiu Xiu: “Into The Night”
This April, experimental noise group Xiu Xiu released Xiu Xiu – Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks, a ‘covers album’ comprising the music from David Lynch’s highly celebrated series. There’s really not much more to say than that, other than that you shouldn’t be put off by not having seen Twin Peaks – it’s a fascinating composition that ups the tension of Angelo Badalamenti’s original score, and brings more grit to the Julee Cruise song ‘Into The Night’ that featured in Twin Peaks.
5. Deftones: Prayers/Triangles
Upon releasing their 8th album last month, Deftones were plagued by scrutiny on their band relationship, with several lyrics in new album Gore suggesting tension within the group. ‘Prayers/Triangles’ holds back from full-frontal hollering for the most part, but gives an ominous message, with the words "You will never be free" stamping their authority on the chorus.
6. Car Seat Headrest: Fill In The Blank
Prolific indie singer-songwriter Car Seat Headrest has been generating excitement ever since signing to Matador. Ahead of releasing new album Teens Of Denial in May, ‘Fill In The Blank’ was thrust into the public view a couple of weeks ago. With guitars glistening with sweat and a charming xylophone backing, it’s another banger from an artist who’s been honing his sound for a long time now.
7. Grimes: Weregild
While not a new track, Grimes’ first album Halfaxa is currently being reissued by her first label, Arbutus. After a whirlwind rise to fame and respect, it’s interesting therefore to see Grimes’ beginnings. ‘Weregild’ shows many of the traits that would come later, but bring the ethereal, the mystical into Claire Boucher’s clean-cut pop hit world that we know and love.
8. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: People-Vultures
Australian psych rockers King Gizzard return to the fray with a flourish and a dash. With their fourth album in two years released in the past week, ‘People-Vultures’ is insistent, unrelenting and a lot of fun. If you’re here for life-changing lyrics, walk away, this is the room for fast beats and faster tunes.
9. Teleman: Fall In Time
Indie pop’s nice guys Teleman went into a lab for a year or so, and engineered new album Brilliant Sanity – it’s about as infectious and catchy as someone could make an album. ‘Fall In Time’ sums up the mood of efficient, crafted fun that occasionally lets go of the leash and lets rip for a second or two. Never have 4 repeated notes sounded less tiresome.
10. Frankie Cosmos: If I Had A Dog
A quickie to finish from New York’s indie singer Frankie Cosmos. Beginning with fairly mundane, if curious, lyrics ("If I had a dog, I’d take a picture every day"), but quickly evolving to something more hard-hitting, ‘If I Had A Dog’ calmly skewers the way in which everything, even the simplest of things, results in objectification of some sort. It moves so quickly that you don’t hear the nuances at first, but there’s a lot to gain from repeat listens to this gem.