This is basically a collection of stuff that I probably should have talked about before now, so it’s a bit of a ‘something for everybody’ sort of post. And if there isn’t anything here that’s to your liking then, y’know, sorry and all that.
First up, an album that has been the recipient of pretty much universal critical acclaim – Strange Mercy, the third record from St. Vincent (otherwise known as Annie Clark). It’s been streaming over on NPR.org for the past couple of weeks, and it’s well worth a look if you haven’t already had a peek. It continues in the vein of 2009’s Actor, juxtaposing sweet singing with dark lyrics and throwing up musical surprises at every turn – from woozy, sadistic opener ‘Chloe In The Afternoon’ all the way through to fearful yet perfectly poised album-closer ‘Year Of The Tiger’. Other highlights include the surprisingly poppy ‘Cruel’, and the mesmerising title track – it might take a few spins to really settle in, but Strange Mercy is proof that St. Vincent is as intriguing as ever.
Also, if you want to see her live, she’s touring all the way through October and November – check out her extensive list of tour dates here.
Strange Mercy is available now on 4AD records.
Another stream that’s been around for a little while comes courtesy of NME.com – Slow Club’s second record, Paradise. The Sheffield two-piece have refined their indie-pop sound – at times, forming it into something truly luscious, as on the sassy yet longing ‘Where I’m Waking’ and the cautiously optimistic ‘If We’re Still Alive’. On the other side of the coin, the duo also present some touching, stripped down numbers such as ‘Never Look Back’ and the poignant ‘You, Earth Or Ash’. Rest assured, this is a very confident follow-up.
The band are also currently in the middle of a UK tour that includes a show The Duchess on the 21st September, for all you York-based people. Full details of the remaining tour dates can be found here.
Paradise is available now on Moshi Moshi records.
The Duke Spirit
Next up, Gigwise have got a 5-track sampler of Bruiser, the new record from The Duke Spirit – and from the scintillating ‘Surrender’ through to the menacing buzz of ‘Procession’, there’s not a bad track among this little selection. ‘Don’t Wait’ bristles with bittersweet yearning, ‘Bodies’ packs a weighty punch, and ‘Cherry Tree’ sees vocalist Leila Moss at her sassiest – “I don’t look back/why would you?” I’ve been looking forward to Bruiser for a while, and on this evidence it’s not going to be a disappointment.
The Duke Spirit are heading out on a European tour next week – unfortunately, they’ve had to postpone their date at The Cockpit in Leeds on the 19th (due to their appearance on Later With Jools Holland on the 20th), but you can find all the remaining dates here.
Bruiser is available on 19th September on Fiction records.