As bank holiday weekend is upon us once again, we've got another playlist to keep your days off occupied catching up with the best new music out there. In today's playlist we have raw, mystic folk-rock, groove-specked R&B, Atlanta country pop, saxophone-lead electronica and rich, electronic jazz fusion.
As ever find the playlist below, along with some of words on our choice picks. Have a wonderful long weekend all.
Big Thief – U.F.O.F
It's a romanticised notion that many a young band strive towards, but since their first national tour four years ago, Brooklyn band Big Thief have quite literally been on the road since. The result has been an inimitable working relationship and creative partnership that culminated in two masterful, back-to-back records and now their third and best yet, U.F.O.F.
With the last 'F' standing for 'friend', U.F.O.F aptly captures the band leader Adrianne Lenker's lifelong interest with embracing the chaotic and the unknown as she paints abstract and impressionistic tales that capture minute, vivid details in a backdrop of broad existential strokes. Once more Andrew Sarlo's seemingly effortless production captures the warmth and darkness of the twangy, folky guitars ('Cattails'), wailing screams ('Contact'), gentle grooves ('Century') and New Age sounds that shroud the record in its rural, mystic glow. JB
Ishmael Ensemble – A State of Flow
Ishmael Ensemble was born out of Bristol multi-instrumentalist Peter Cunningham’s solo house music project Ishmael. After releasing one of the best albums of the year in 2016 in which he recorded all the parts himself, Cunningham decided to get himself a band to fill out his sound.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Ishmael Ensemble have finally put out their first full length album. Continuing what Cunningham was doing on his own, A State of Flow melds electronic and jazz sounds, but to a much richer effect.
Over the album’s nine tracks the band creates a cohesive, atmospheric sound that reveals its true depth with repeated listens. Swirling soundscapes are a calling card here, continually drawing the listener in until you find yourself in the eye of a sonic hurricane.
A lot of the current UK jazz scene is built around drawing a physical reaction ending up in sweaty heaps of dancers. This album is a much more cerebral enterprise and as such acts as a refreshing counterbalance to bands like Sons of Kemet, Steam Down, Ezra Collective and the like. AW
Alaskalaska – The Dots
Not quite impossible to pronounce, though it takes at least a handful of gobbledegook attempts, South London art-pop troupe Alaskalaska live up to their near-indescribable moniker by producing a collection of expansive songs that is just as tough to pinpoint. This is no slight, let’s be clear.
On debut album The Dots, the absorbent five-piece mould a myriad of rhythmic influences, mercurial saxophone cadences, and soft, subdued synthetic textures into an amalgam that exhibits band leader Lucinda Duarte-Holman’s penchant for poppy weirdness, but remains rooted to their jazz collective beginnings. Think Robyn-gone-prog, or Lykke Li drawing inspiration from Brainfeeder mogul Flying Lotus.
With the vast terrain of sonic experimentalism to roam, Alaskalaska have shown no reluctance in embracing the more conventional aspects of contemporary music. After all, isn’t pop a boundary-less genre anyway? TC
Big Thief play a variety of festivals this summer – click here to find out more.