JOE BOOLEY - OUTGREW

Hampshire's Joe Booley has been kicking around the internet for a few years now, but with the release of Outgrew / I Wonder, his ambition has finally caught up to his talent. It's a marked sidestep away from his singer-songwriter confines - instead bringing in ambient noise,  raindrop beats and all the reverb in all the land.

There's a suggestion of Onelinedrawing, Idiot Pilot, Her Space Holiday and Thom Yorke, but Booley corrals them all into a symbiotic whole. The brief hint of malevolence and anger at the end of 'Outgrew' is most welcome, too, pushing some good old-fashioned vitriol into your life. Invite it in - it's only getting colder out there.

THE WELCOME PARTY - WHERE WE GO

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There's a hackneyed turn of phrase within music reviewing that means to be a compliment, but is a bit of a backhander: "the band have arrived fully-formed." It seeks to praise their identity, but undermines the work and missteps that inevitably led to that point. It implies a level of chance which just isn't a factor. Simply saying "they know who they are" would be infinitely preferable.

The Welcome Party know themselves pretty well, and on 'Where We Go' they wring everything they can out of an ambitious five minutes. As much in thrall to post-punk dynamics as post-rock catharsis, the song has its own distinct momentum and refuses to settle into a predictable pattern.

In the wrong hands, the main guitar riff would be the sole focus of the track and quickly lose its edge, but here it's twisted into new shapes through palm mutes and broken arpeggios as the song builds. The rhythm section is its best friend, dragging it along and forcing the inherent melancholia into something much more vital.

You can find elements of earlier, angrier National, The JAMC, Morphine and the criminally forgotten Hope of the States, but The Welcome Party remain themselves throughout, needling away at their own song until it becomes the best it can be. This is an immensely satisfying turn, and it comes from their equally excellent Always Winter EP, which is out June 3.

MARTIN GRECH - MOTHFLOWER

I say this without absolutely no trepidation: Martin Grech is better than your band. If he could ever finish a damn record, that is. March of the Lonely came out in 2007, and since then he's promised much, decided his name may actually be Meatsuit and released about two albums worth of demos, sketches and half-formed ideas.

It seems, however, that we may finally see a proper LP from the man. 'Mothflower', the first child from the forthcoming Hush Mortal Core, was pushed out the door a few months ago, and it's everything I hoped it would be.

Although it takes big cues from his undisputed masterpiece, Unholy, it's also a wandering bludgeon through everything he's ever put to tape: ambient, acoustic, progressive, violent, soothing and caustic. That horrible 29-word sentence is me telling you it's good.

He says his new record is fully recorded and being mixed right now. I'm not falling for that until I see the whole thing in my greedy paws, but I'm experiencing something dangerously close to hope.

 

POLARNECKS - BASKETBALL

Remember when Idlewild took that leap from 80s hardcore / Sonic Youth / roll-on-the-floor-instead-of-playing-the-actual-songs kids and became a wonderfully articulate young rock band? Remember what emerged from that? Yup, it was 100 Broken Windows. That's why I'm excited about Polarnecks. They stand on that same precipice.

'Basketball' begins with a ridiculous lo-fi beat that sounds like someone slapping on an old suitcase, then a deliciously evil baseline pre-empts a bit of Pixies discord and we're off. They skilfully ramp up the tension as the track rolls along, letting sounds and feedback pile on until the whole thing collapses in on itself. I bet they're fantastic live.

There's only 50 cassettes of their new record, Scary Things, and it's up for pre-order now. I don't even need to tell you what to do next.

OPERATOR - I, BANANA

What if Stereolab decided to incorporate noise rock into their sound? Well, there's a good chance you'd end up with something not unrelated to Brooklyn's Operator.

Banal comparisons aside, the way that Operator expertly weave in and out of motorik beats, guitar squalls and synth squelch on their debut EP, Puzzlephonics, is pretty remarkable. It's surprisingly coherent, and across the five tracks on display the band patiently explores grooves and melodies without resorting to mimicry or pastiche.

'I Banana' is a strong introduction, showing off all the above characteristics across a brisk three minutes, leaving you eager to explore the rest of the record. It's filled with airy spaces, deadpan vocals and abrasive post-punk guitars. Get involved immediately and pick up the lovely red tapes they've got available.

PILLARS & CANNES - MOMENTS

Here's one of those internet opinion-based facts that I know you can't get enough of: ambient / drone records always have the best album covers. Minimal, evocative and completely absorbent to whatever emotion you wish to project onto them when your listening is over. Just look at Femke Strijbol's work with Belgian tape label Dauw, for crying out loud. 

Also from Belgium, Weight of Ages have absolutely nailed their design aesthetic. Thematically linked yet individually distinct, they've put out a series of affecting releases this year, culminating with September's Pillars and Cannes collaboration, Girls of Sorrow.

'Moments' is its cyclical closer that patiently unfolds before you, hinting at lengthy exploration before pulling you back into your actual life with a hypnic jerk. It's both brutally unfair and expertly executed.

There's three tracks up on Bandcamp, but eight available if you make the purchase. FYI, that purchase price is half a Euro. So even if the additional five tracks were absolute bollocks, you still get the other three for half a frigging Euro. Luckily, they're just as beguiling as the rest, particularly 'Crystal' and 'Natural Blonde.'

HOUNDS - FAUST (NASCENCE)

Ryan Bernardo, aka Hounds, is seemingly on a mission to recreate Giovanni Piranesi's Imaginary Prisons in terrifying digital form. Following the Soundcloud release of 'Transfiguration', 'Faust (Nascence)' arrives on Bandcamp with more menace than is really appropriate for a Wednesday afternoon.

However, its tendrils stretch wide and claim ear drums with scant regard for propriety. This one really, really builds, fusing snatches of melody with oceans of electronic paranoia and harsh abrasion. It's an unsettling Nine Inch Nails / Gazelle Twin / Tim Hecker / HR Giger hybrid, and I can't seem to turn it off.

RETIREMENT - ONLY ONE SKY

This one has completely made my day. A dirty grunge crunch of guitar under a prominent piano riff and a really great pop undertone that's overt and accomplished enough to qualify as a sensibility. It's far from predictable, too, taking several little detours over its brisk outing.

Retirement (is there really no ther band with that name?) are from Seattle and 'Only One Sky' is taken from their Without My Shadow EP which is arriving in October. Have cash ready for cassettes and arms open in welcome.