Album round up - August 2014

*4also Released

Lia Ices

Including new releases from James Yorkston, Moon Duo, Earth and Franz Ferdinand

James YorkstonThe Cellardyke Recording & Wassailing Society

(Domino) ●●●●●
It would be tempting to declare this customarily brilliant piece of work from Fife’s other contemporary folk troubadour a fond farewell to the Fence Collective as-was, with its bittersweet tone and haunting vocal interjections courtesy of KT Tunstall and Johnny ‘Pictish Trail’ Lynch. Yet it proves to be so much more than that, an understated but mighty record with a warm heart and several acres of finely-tuned self-doubt to work through. (DP)

International ObserverTouched

(Dubmission) ●●●
A man with an eclectic career to say the least, Tom Bailey co-founded 80s pop outfit the Thompson Twins, worked with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, played keyboards for Grace Jones and wrote for Debbie Harry. This fifth album from the now New Zealand-based Bailey’s International Observer alias takes the dub influences of the above and runs with them, being a dense and often moody selection of remixes with an occasionally Eastern feel from the likes of Banco De Gaia and fellow NZ-based outfits Black Seeds and Bic Runga. (DP)

Franz FerdinandLate Night Tales

(Late Night Tales) ●●●●
Franz’ own cover of Jonathan Halper’s ‘Leaving My Old Life Behind’ and spoken word ‘Defibrillator’ aren’t the only reasons to own this strong if jaw-droppingly odd selection. It surfs through Sandy Nelson’s thundering surf-rocker ‘Let There be Drums’, Glasgow’s own Life Without Buildings, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s mighty ‘Disco Devil’ and Paul McCartney’s not-unwelcome ‘Nineteen Hundred & Eighty Five’, before a shift to the contemporary with Boards of Canada, Oneohtrix Point Never and Justus Kohncke. (DP)

EarthPrimitive and Deadly

(Southern Lord) ●●●
Eight albums in, and Dylan Carlson’s Seattle-based band of drone warriors are back with their eighth full-length recording, featuring five lengthy tracks which explore the outer reaches of more traditional metal realms. Each song is an epic, dense churn of hard-edged, squalling riffs set off by guest vocalist Mark Lanagan's growl, with tracks such as ‘Torn By the Fox of the Crescent Moon’ and ‘Even Hell Has its Heroes’ unravelling as taut but unhurried epics. (DP)

Lia IcesIces

(Jagjaguwar) ●●●●
The third long-player from US singer-songwriter Lia Ices is an elevating affair, in sound and design. An experimental electro-pop homage to levity, flight and getting high, Ices is layered and intricate, yet instantly accessible – from heavenly processed-rock aria 'Thousand Eyes' to shimmering off-beat lullaby 'Creature'. Embracing Persian rhythms, Pakistani pop, psychobilly, space-rock, gospel and dub, it makes for an uplifting, liberating excursion, and Ices' voice sounds brighter than ever. (NM)

Moon DuoLive in Ravenna

(Sacred Bones) ●●●
As with the Twins Cocteau and Thompson before them, this ace, coruscating live wig-out from San Francisco psych trippers Moon Duo sees Sanae Yamada (keyboards, vocals) and Wooden Shjips' Ripley Johnson (guitars) throw caution to the numerical restrictions of their moniker – and their five-year maximalist / minimalist modus operandi – by throwing a third member into their scorching drone / fuzz / pop equation, thanks to drummer John Jeffrey. The results are typically cosmic, groove-fuelled and intoxicating. (NM)
Moon Duo play the Caves, Edinburgh, Thu 4 Sep.

Trans AmVolume X

(Thrill Jockey) ●●●●
That's a fairly straightforward album title for such an enigmatic band. This tenth long-player from electronic shape-shifters, and post-rock innovators, Trans Am, sees the Maryland kosmische retro-futurists further advance the complex sonic template(s) for which they're known and loved – heady, rhythmic instrumentals ('Reevaluations'); dizzying motorik grooves ('Night Shift') – but they lob in a few surprises (and laughs) too, including robo-serenades, MOR and, most preposterous of all, the mangled speedball-thrash of 'Backlash'. (NM)

Pere UbuCarnival of Souls

(Fire Records) ●●●
David Thomas' legendary Cleveland experimentalists Pere Ubu, who formed in 1975, have never rested on their post-punk laurels – preferring instead to storm ever-forward, dispatching a series of polarising, fascinating subterranean-pop albums and doctrines along the way (their latest treatise, 'The Fixing Things Manifesto', targets prog-rock). Carnival of Souls (a reference to the same-titled 1962 B-movie in name only) is Pere Ubu's 18th LP and offers another dark and filmic (bad) trip through pop-noir, avant-garage and terminal anarchy. (NM)