January Audio: Tomorrows, Brokeback, Xiu Xiu + More

Tomorrows

Another Life

[Trout]

Tomorrows are comprised of members of several, now defunct, local indie mainstays including survivors of The Chapters and Biggles Fly Again amongst their ranks. Their debut showcases a gentle, breezy, crowd-pleasing brand of psych-pop not unlike the early work of Tame Impala. Thankfully, this is not an exercise in pure populism at the expense of artistry. Through its keyboard flourishes in particular, Another Life succeeds in creating an inviting and accomplished, if not particularly challenging, world of its own. Another fine addition to the thriving domestic music scene. – Danny Wilson

 

Brokeback

Illinois River Valley Blues

[Thrill Jockey]

Due to the nature of their craft, it can be difficult for primarily instrumental acts like Brokeback to arrive at a unique sound, let alone keeping that sound engaging over the course of a full LP. On Illinois River Valley Blues, Brokeback doesn’t quite sidestep the mire of sameness but that isn’t to say the record is wholly bereft of moments of inspiration. Evoking (most notably) Tortoise and Television with a more twangy southwestern inflection, Brokeback’s latest is grand in both the international and Irish understandings of the word. Broadly agreeable if mostly forgettable. – Danny Wilson

 

Neil Young

Peace Trail

[Reprise Records]

You have to admire Neil. As his contemporaries are either dying or being awarded Nobel prizes, he’s still plugging away releasing new (if not wholly dissimilar) records year on year out. Depending on one’s preferences (disclosure for context: On the Beach is his best record) this, sparse, ragged and often toe-tappin’ collection might be his most engaging release in recent years. The explicitly political lyrical approach is often so on the nose it veers towards pastiche but that is, frankly, something we’ve come to expect. Young remains a welcome if less than entirely vital presence. – Danny Wilson

 

Xiu Xiu

FORGET

[Polyvinyl]

Shock-pop vets Xiu Xiu move on from resuscitating the music of Twin Peaks with a record that sounds like a steroided up version of old, abrasive Xiu Xiu. Produced by John Congleton – who has elsewhere made fine sounding records with everyone from Alvvays to a band called Zzzz (literally) – it’s possible in this guise to trace a previously hidden line between Xiu Xiu and another of Congleton’s collaborators, St. Vincent, but with the substitution of Annie Clark’s vice-like control for Jamie Stewart’s eggshell vulnerability. –Ian Lamont

 

Enemies

Valuables

[Topshelf Records]

Kildare four-piece Enemies made the unusual but in some ways kind of honourable decision to put their growing musical differences aside and push on to the completion of Valuables in full recognition that they would part ways immediately afterwards. The record feels like the biggest shuffle away from the mathy/instrumental scene which birthed Enemies and tastefully expands the palate of Embark, Embrace without betraying its shy-guy principles and turning into some kind of All Tvvins FIFA-music. Exiting on a high. –Ian Lamont

 

Dawn Richard

Redemption

[Local Action Records]

This is the last in a trilogy of solo records from Richard whose career has taken the less-trodden path from reality TV hopeful on Making a Band 3 to Bad Boy Records bit-parter to finally establishing herself with a leading role as a kind of space-dance goddess. There’s a temptation to draw comparisons between Richard and FKA twigs, only one bathed in a different set of influences inherent in the former coming from Louisiana and the latter coming from Cheltenham. But despite those disparities, many similar ultra-modern, dance-led impulses echo here in highly satisfactory fashion. – Ian Lamont

 

Pink Floyd

The Early Years 1967-72: Cre/ation

[Parlophone]

 

This collection details the journey from the Syd Barrett-led Piper At The Gates of Dawn to just before the Roger Waters-led Dark Side of the Moon in non-album cuts. Between those two institutions of British rock music, there’s a curious meander of a band moving from sculpted pop through an era of soundtracking films before finding a new voice, and represents the shift in cultural headspace from the 1960s to the 1970s. A fascinating journey and always a treat to hear the Barrett-era singles again. – Ian Lamont

 

The Rolling Stones

Blue & Lonesome

[Universal]

 

I know nobody needs to give a reason for making music, but seriously, do the Rolling Stones really need to get back in a room and discover their fucking roots again? Well, they have. Bashing their way through a few classics of the Chicago Blues era from which they derived their name results in the kind of perpetual meh you could have predicted, and you’ll be none the worse for skipping this. – Ian Lamont

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