6th November 2023
It’s been a season of fresh starts for LGSM, with autumn bringing the new academic year, the launch of our new society, and most importantly, a bunch of album releases. So, to celebrate new beginnings, our music writers have sought out the best of this months new music. This months top picks include everything, from a debut album by an already beloved indie band, to a release that roots itself in 1970s psychedelic rock.
Lily Blakeney-Edwards – Elbow, ‘Giants of All Sizes’
Elbow have been a constant throughout British music of the decade, having delivered everything from gritty bangers; to softer, slowly paced ballads. But yet, the group have still managed to surprise with their latest release, ‘Giants of All Sizes’ an emotional, intricate set of tracks that depicts a broken Britain through the bands eyes.
With it being some rough couple years for the group, who were faced with the deaths of multiple friends and family members, it was natural to expect a less than cheerful release. However, what was unexpected was the level of anger that works their way through the tracks as a whole, such as the opener to the album, ‘Dexter and Sinister’, which frontman Guy Garvey describes as a reflection on, ‘Brexit, the loss of family and friends and the general sense of disaffection you see all-around at the moment’.
The track mixes the typical progressive rock that seems integral to Elbow’s sound, with the unexpectedly bleak opening statement, ‘I don’t know Jesus anymore’. It’s a line that gives an insight into both the band’s personal struggle with their equal despair with the world around them, and isn’t where this critique stops. Tracks like, ‘White Noise and White Heat’ and ‘Empires’, provide the masterful instrumentation we expect from the band, with equally cutting lyrics that scrutinise 21st century Britain.
However, it’s the closer, ‘Weightless’, that is truly the standout the album, with Garvey providing astonishing vocals and tender lyrics that serve as a tribute to his recently deceased father. It’s a heart-warming, impactful ending to an emotional album which proves that Elbow are still the standouts of the British music scene, that they seemingly always have been.
Daniel Marx – Kneebody, ‘Chapters’
Electric jazz group, Kneebody, have gone through a lot of changes in the last year. Bassist Kaveh Rastegar departed the band to focus on other endeavours, side projects from saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer Nate Wood brought new notoriety to the group, and they changed label from long-time collaborator Motema Music, to Britain’s most exciting jazz label, Edition Records.
Having made all of these transitions, the group has set out to make new strides with their sound on their brand-new album, Chapters. Wood is now simultaneously holding the roles of drummer and bassist in a mind-blowing display of virtuosity, and the band has opened up their ranks to a series of collaborations with some of the best vocalists and songwriters in New York’s contemporary jazz scene including Rastegar.
Highlights include the delightfully sombre, ‘Wounds Let in the Light’, co-written by singer/songwriter Becca Stevens and Ben Wendel, and the electrifying, ‘What’s My Name’, from vocal jazz wunderkind, Michael Mayo. Additional collaborations from Gretchen Parlato, Josh Dion and pianist Gerald Clayton, fill out the track listing as well as original instrumentals by the other band members that show off Kneebody’s signature, sonically warped, effects laden and bleeding edge jazz interplay. Chapters, as the title indicates, is the start of a new era for Kneebody, but despite all the sudden changes, this new record sees the quartet keeping a tight hold in their well-established identity, while continuing to push boundaries.
Liam Greenwood – Temples, ‘Hot Motion’
For my album of the month I have cheated a little, as it is from late September, not October. Temples released their third album, ‘Hot Motion’, on the 27th, which melds 1970’s psychedelic rock with a 1980’s synth style background. Continuing their fusion of genres from their previous two albums. I stumbled across this album due to Spotify’s brilliant Release radar. Initially, I thought it was great, but lacked longevity. That was until I found myself humming, ‘The Howl’, the albums fourth track. Not the only song to be stuck in my head, as I regularly found myself listening to the album over the next few days.
The title track, ‘Hot Motion’ kicks in with a lone guitar riff that sets the tone of the song, and it quickly leads you into the albums overarching dreamlike sound with lead-singer James Bagshaw’s voice complimenting the nostalgic sound of the band. Which is clear to see in songs such as, ‘You’re either on something’ or ‘Context’, as Temples continuously create melodic guitar riffs and energetic basslines throughout their album. Hot Motion certainly provides fast-tempo highs and slow dreamlike lows throughout.
In a time where singles tend to rule the music industry, it is refreshing to see an album tightly crafted together to provide a journey for the listener. I recommend their latest album to fans of psychedelic rock and indie too. A strong collection to their discography, Hot Motion by Temples is certainly a ‘grower’ and contains greatly produced tracks throughout.
Sarah Potter – FEET, ‘What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham’
After seeing the Bristolian quintet explode onto the scene after supporting Declan McKenna back in 2017, FEET’s debut album doesn’t disappoint. Bringing a more refined sound to their original demo of, ‘Petty Thieving’, we can see where the band is taking their jangly brand of indie-rock, and it’s exciting. The first track of the album entitled, “Good Richard’s Crash Landing”, has an almost Space Oddity-esque chord progression, which quickly switches to a more upbeat, almost haunting sound when accompanied with background vocals, typical of the whole album adding dimension to the songs and complexity.
Another stand out song would have to be, “Chalet 47”, a more wonky pop sounding tune with less aggression fuelling the lyrics and rather echoes the tones of Declan McKenna himself. “Axe Man” and “Ad Blue” are tracks which echo more of their older sound, layered bouncy instrumentals and jokey, heavily accented vocalisations, fit together to form seamless hits which would definitely get the crowd bouncing live. Overall, “What’s Inside is More Than Just Ham”, is a fun, imaginative brand of indie pop rock which is refreshing in a musical landscape of more lo-fi sounds in the current scenes.
Hannah Webber- Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, ‘Ghosteen’
Mystical, bleak and haunting, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ seventeenth studio album is no easy listening, but will lead you on a poignant journey to a world of grief and loss.
This is Cave’s first album wholly completed since the death of his fifteen-year-old son, and the presence of this loss in the album could not be more profound. The title alone encapsulates the album’s motif, broken up into “Ghost- Teen”, and the haunting presence of his son is no less inescapable in the following tracks. The eerie presence of Warren Eliss’ synths, the choral quality of the backing vocals and Cave’s stripped back, almost vulnerable vocals create a beautifully chilling atmosphere, absorbing the listener in Cave’s netherworld of spirits and, as suggested by the title, ghosts.
One stand-out track for me is, ‘Bright Horses’, the second song on the record. All-consuming and suspersensory with its melodic piano, the depth of Cave’s agonised vocals and the eerie presence of choral wailing, this track beautifully encompasses coming to terms with loss. As for the twelve minute title track towards the end of the album, this is a full attention required, both-earphones-in, full volume job. Like the rest of the record, listening to this start to finish is no mean feat- it’s heavy and its dark, but there’s something beautifully cathartic about it. Devastating yet comforting, this 68 minute masterpiece is the medicine you didn’t know you needed, a beautifully agonising meditation on tragedy, suffering and hope.
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