October was pretty good, then? I think so. Perhaps not as hard as August or September to pick a set of records from, but a toughie nonetheless. Here's the ones we chose to represent the glorious month of October, which was, at times, unseasonably warm.
Atlas Sound - Logos
Says Andrzej Lukowski: "Logos is a gorgeous, hallucinatory and somewhat sickly outing. While there's every chance he'll wrong foot us, and soon, this record is entirely in keeping with the increasingly self-erasing route Bradford Cox has taken as a musician; it's hard to stifle a shudder at that blanked out cover image. Maybe Cox will go on to be a star next decade - he's a gregarious, prolific man liked by critics. But listen to his music, and that doesn't feel quite right. Maybe he'll become an icon. Or maybe he’ll finally make his escape from our timestream entirely, leaving us to wonder if he was ever there at all."
Lightning Bolt - Earthly Delights
Says Mark Powell: "And so on and so forth, we the ant-like listeners lashed to the rigging, shrieking dementedly into the very maw of the force 11 gale threatening to capsize us. Except it’d be rather too easy to sketch this as a record suitable only for chewing off your own tongue to: in fact, just like the Hieronymus Bosch triptych it appears to name-check, Earthly Delights is actually a work far richer in tone, shade and technique than its lurid sheen might suggest. ‘Colossus’ and ‘Flooded Chamber’ both do an admirable job of pointing this out - the former, occurring early on in proceedings, is a ghoulish seven-minute visitation that lumbers hesitantly in like the zombified cadaver of grunge itself, pauses momentarily for effect, then promptly tears its own face off and eats it."
Various - New Moon Soundtrack
Says Richard Wink: "When a soundtrack works this well, with each track slotting naturally into a strongly cohesive body of work, you begin to wonder about the clamour that is sure to come from bands and singer songwriters to put their work forward towards featuring on the next film's soundtrack. For the likes of Anya Marina and Band of Skulls, the opportunity to sit at the big table next to Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear and The Killers could be a career altering moment, particularly when potentially these artists are not just soundtracking a popular movie franchise, but the early romantic forages of an entire generation of blood thirsty teens."
BEAK> - BEAK>
Says Robert Ferguson: "Beak> is born out of a desire to cut loose after the torturous process of writing and recording the last Portishead album. Whatever the spur, there is a vibrancy to Beak> which smacks you in the ears immediately. Vibrancy is a commodity you will no doubt see referenced often in music reviews, but this is the real deal folks; Beak> was written and recorded in 12 days in one studio, using live recordings with no overdubs or repair, edits being the only tool used by Barrow and bandmates Billy Fuller and Matt 'Team Brick' Williams to thread the material together. The result is 12 almost totally instrumental cuts which easily match up to the size of the conceit which created them. The lack of vocals feels deeply right for this material; these are not pop songs, these are musical provocations couched in jazz, psychedelia, krautrock and electronics."
Broadcast and the Focus Group - Broadcast & the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Says Abi Bliss: "Witch Cults of the Radio Age is chaotic, overstimulating, like opening a dusty wardrobe and having an entire childhood tumble down on your head. Packing 23 tracks into 48 minutes, it may well alienate followers who prefer the more leisurely pop of ‘Papercuts’. But it carries the same trapped-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-mirror allure as Tender Buttons, with Keenan channelling some inner kaleidoscope through her outwardly blank, coolly regretful vocals. “The forehead is where the diamond rotates / All circles vanish” she intones on ‘The Be Colony’, drifting between pools of echo as the bass bubbles malevolently away underneath."
Russian Circles - Geneva
Says Robert Cooke: "Each track takes you on a journey, which on the surface might seem repetitive. But with the passing of every bar, the patterns do change (albeit so slightly it’s barely noticeable), and before long you’ve inexplicably arrived at a new destination, even though at the time of travelling it might have felt as though you were barely moving at all. The result is that you want to keep repeating each excursion, to pick up on what you missed last time, to work out how the hell you actually got from one place to another, or just for the thrill of the voyage itself."
Do Make Say Think - Other Truths
Says Rory Gibb: "Other Truths bristles with energy, exuding an inescapable vibrancy from every pore. It’s not often you find music that lives and breathes with such conviction that you find itself swept away in the charm of it all. That Do Make Say Think have achieved this lofty standard yet again shouldn’t come as a shock, yet it’s testament to their enduring talent that, at every turn, Other Truths continues to surprise and enthrall in equal measure."
Efterklang - Performing Parades
Says Luke Slater: "The high point is steady, from the initial, twitching, tense, discordant strings of ‘Polygene’ through the heart of the album and out the other end. It is bottomless in its brilliance. So enchanting are vast swathes of this record – the spectral slowing 87 seconds of ‘Mimeo’ followed by the progression from carefree to burdened with a sack of sadness that is ‘Frida Found A Friend’ – it’s easy to forget the variety of the 11 tracks. ‘Caravan’ is the one which acts most like a traditional rock track, with its chiming guitar and dirty bassline but even this proves to be an imposter to convention and tradition, being outlasted by more choral exchanges and Nordic mastery of mystery."
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
Says James Lawrenson: "The album is all about ideas. 'Some Trees' is two different songs - a driving road trip riff verse and a twee little chorus that bounces from noise to quiet and back again - welded together by a dodgy backstreet mechanic. Somehow it all hangs together; some kind of testament to Cymbal Eat Guitar's talents. They even taste the zeitgeist on 'Share', creating My Bloody Valentine style shoegaze and conquering it - adding brass into the heady brew. It's all about the ideas."
Perhaps the last decent month before the year, and maybe even decade, is out? Or more goodness to come? Perhaps, but that Weezer album's a bit of a stinker, ennit?