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Five Hearts in One Place Of all the records we reviewed in April, 33 of them got five hearts, the highest

Five Hearts in One Place

Of all the records we reviewed in April, 33 of them got five hearts, the highest

by OL House Writer,
first published: May, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

Irked - "they remind me of all that is exciting and inspiring about music and why I got into it in the first place." Alan Rider

Reviewers

How would we know that April was a great month for music if it wasn't for Five Heart reviews from, John Robinson (2), Tim London (1), Alan Rider (3), Ancient Champion (12), LamontPaul (4), Ogglypoogly (2), Toon Traveller (5), Lee Paul (3) and Hamilton High (1). All Five Heart, all the time, in alpha order.


ADRIANNE LENKER - Vampire Empire (4AD)
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by LamontPaul

This is a song you'll possibly be familiar with. And if so maybe then like me you'll be a fan and for why? I just love how Adrianne Lenker depicts an uncanny moment, and then moves right along, leaving it with you. "I see you how you see yourself though all the books you read." It's a physical manifestation of when someone wants to kiss your skin. Down-homey version. 


ALESSANDRO ALLESANDRONI - Chiesa Di Campagna (Four Flies)
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by Ancient Champion

If there was One Minute You Won't Get Back, and it could be any minute, well what about this one, Chiesa Di Campagna. Alessandro Allesandroni you'll know for his incredible work for Ennio Morricone. Give up one minute. And when that organ kicks in towards the final 15 seconds or so, you'll be so happy you'll want to die feeling just like that.


AMIGO THE DEVIL - Yours Until The War Is Over (Liars Club Records)
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by Ogglypoogly

"Occasionally an Album comes along and takes you hostage, There is no option to simply write a quick review espousing its many attributes, describing the colours of the music therein for a public waiting on recommendations to investigate, or avoid." Read the full review and some, here→


ANCIENT CHAMPION - The Retrofuturists Are Back / Crank Magnetism (Fullertone Records)
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by Ogglypoogly

This review has been on my ‘to do’ list for a few weeks, sadly for all of you I’ve been on automatic pilot for a while.  I say sadly because were I able to - I’d have sat you all down and made you listen on repeat a few times, whilst I nod enthusiastically and raise my eyebrows in a  “this was entirely what you needed to hear right now” affirmation. Alas I don’t have the means to actually make that happen, so what I’m going to need you to do is seek this out and listen to it - choosing whether to imagine a particularly enthusiastic Heron watching is entirely up to you. My only true criticism would be that neither track is quite long enough. The titular track is an upbeat, if faintly eerie, contrasting like yin to the yang of Crank Magnetism. A track so bouncy and gleeful it feels like summer has made an early start in my Ears. If I were to describe the EP as whole, then I ask you to imagine that you’re being followed through back streets as the sun rises, you hear the occasional clatter of a stray can being disturbed, and whilst your heart feels like it’s going to beat it’s way through your sternum you slowly turn to face your fate only to find it’s a litter of spaniels and they’re here to deliver a truck load of bubbles JUST for you. And, if that hasn’t spurred you on to listen to this, well - I’m not honestly sure what will.


ANCIENT CHAMPION - Anarchy In The UK (youtube)
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by Lee Paul

Reading through the reviews and got to Gitkin. I wondered what Ancient Champion was going on about. I'd heard Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, I'd heard The Model and Lucky Guy from the eternally forthcoming This is Punk Rock and This is New Wave EP. But I hadn't heard this...


AROOJ AFTAB - Raat Ki Rani (Verve Records)
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by Ancient Champion

Well she makes it sound easy, doesn't she? This comes from Arooj Aftab's forthcoming LP Night Reign, a follow-up to Vulture Prince which was, when we still did those things, Outsideleft's LP of the Year in 2021. Of Raat Ki Rani, Arooj says, "Interaction with the queen of the night feels unthinkable, sometimes we must be content with an exchange of glances.” Raat Ki Rani is at once expansive and illusively intimate. Daring to speak of an erotic joy and sorrow. Such is life.


BASEMENT LETTERS - Heavy Showers (Bandcamp)
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by Ancient Champion

Oh wow! This is a great hybrid pop song with fab lyrical intent. A writer who can write provocative meaning into a pop lyric. Great busy synths and rising choruses. A youthful swaggering snarl from the singer. Aces. And who can resist a record that breaks down to a weather report in the middle? Not me and I hope not you. It all sounds so floatily effortlessly ambitious and yet, still a pleasure to listen to. Amazingly amazing all told.


CADENCE WEAPON - My Computer (MNRK Music)
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by Toon Traveller

Always on the computer like our publisher Lamontpaul? Cadence Weapon has a warning for you. Tecky buzz words pervade, we know them all. Those words spewed across IT and computers are there, it's the beat and rhythm driving the song. It's not a million miles from the dystopia Kreftwek hinted at, decades ago, it really isn't. But funked up, less remote know, as a spectacle, spaced out. A paean, a testament to the 2020's obsessions, effects, business life, and goals."My computer, my solution, easy access, content modified, screen saver."   We've all seen the messages, read the flashes, sounds places, finger flits, flicks, and touches. The music perversely, or precisely is workaday, the voice urgent and disinterested meets the sense of helplessness we feel in IT overwhelm. It works.  “I wanted to rap about tech companies and the physical impact they have on cities,” says Cadence. “One example is the ill-fated Sidewalk Labs project where Google attempted to build a neighborhood of the future in Toronto where garbage collection was automated and the taxis drove themselves. While that project failed, I find cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and London are basically already there. These tech-utopias have one thing in common: working people are typically made expendable and pushed to the margins.” This needs to be listened to, with close attention, there's skill and intel here. But who's hearing it?


DAVE GUY - Footwork (Big Crown)
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by LamontPaul

Dave Guy is a member of The Roots, The Dap Kings and The Budos Band. He has played with everyone from Amy Winehouse & Lizzo to Lee Fields & Charles Bradley. For Dave's first solo single on one of my favourite labels, Big Crown, he gets long time collaborators Homer Steinweiss & Nick Movshon producing as well as playing. Footwork - I like that title, it's a Latin inspired tune that's gonna get you up, lightly, on your toes and springing. Dave’s trumpet lines are the greatest. Full of air. There's a not a superfluous note. It's a contemporary vintage classic, already.


DYW - Negative Space (FPE Records)
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by Tim London

Is it possible to be scared, exhilarated, titillated and lifted, [and a plethora of other things...] by an LP? Tim London's asking you to listen and find out. Read the whole review of Belgrade's DYW, here→


ENGLISH TEACHER - This Could be Texas (Island Records)
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by John Robinson

John Robinson says that for him this is one of the releases of this [rapidly aging] year. John has a lot more to say too, right over here→


ESTHER ROSE - Ketamine (New West)
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by Lee Paul

So... I've been a big fan of alt-country star Esther Rose for an age now. Ketamine was first released on Bandcamp back in January and is now included in a new EP of reworkings of faves from 23's Safe To Run LP. Eeerrrgghhh, so much exposition. Let's get to it. This record is going to be particularly handy if you don't keep a copy of the Physicians Desk Reference on your bedside table. As so many of the most favorite women in my life do. Or maybe now you access that content online on your phone or something. Maybe you subscribe. Drugs change so fast these days. "I'll try ketamine, I'll try benzodiazepine... "  Let me see if I have got this right from what I remember... Ketamine might be used for treatment resistant depression. Benzodiazepine, anxiety and insomnia. What would you rhyme with psilocybin? This is a great stripped song by an artist who always appears been ready to reach for it. I don't know whether there's been so much drug talk outside a Craig Finn record in like forever. They should duet. It would be a disaster for the characters in the song. But so rewarding for us product consumers. 


FLESH FIELD - Voice of Reason (Metropolis)
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by Alan Rider

Released as a companion piece to the five heart rated 'Voice of the Echo Chamber' album, 'Voice of Reason' is an extended, album length EP of seven new tracks, plus remixes by The Great and The Good of the scene.  Rather than group the remixes at the end, they are scattered throughout the album, but the new tracks are the draw for me and each sport the trademark cinematic quality that mark out the Flesh Field sound. Standout track has to be 'The Truth Can't Hide The Lie'. This album is screaming out for a dystopian video game to be made for it, and in keeping with the themes explored in 'Voice of the Echo Chamber', it's dramatic, portentious, and driven by a pounding tribal rhythm track and bloody orchestral stabs throughout. The remixes are actually a lot better than I'd feared (I am not a huge fan of remixes per se), with a jittery re-working by Leather Strip of 'Soldier', a superior take on 'Catalyst' by GenCAB, and an almost synth pop 'Manifesto' by System Syn.  Flesh Field's Ian Ross always looks so damned serious that he seems to have a lot on his mind, but on the evidence of this he needn't worry so much.  He knows what he is doing and this is an unusual take on a follow up album that really works. 


GUY HAMPER TRIO - Incense Rising from a Censer ft James Taylor (Damaged Goods)
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by Ancient Champion

Sort of maybe, a double-A sided single in the classic sense. The Guy Hamper Trio fly the hammond organ pedals all the way to the stars and further. Might be the band I want to see most this year. The other side of this, Instrument of Evil - even far further out. Their story is here→ and I'd recommend reading it... My story is, this is the greatest Ancient Champion record of all time and I didn't even get to make it.


IRKED - Irked (Scene Report Records)
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by Alan Rider

Irked are a punk band from Newcastle and this, their titled debut EP, is simply fizzing with energy and verve and is completely wonderful.  Bursting with youthful rage, humour, attitude, and in-your-face grrrrr, they remind me of all that is exciting and inspiring about music and why I got into it in the first place.  The opener 'Snakes' starts with a minute of screaming feedback.   I love this. They deserve to be huge.


JAMES ELKINGTON / NATHAN SALSBURG - Death Wishes To Kill (Paradise of Bachelors)
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by Toon Traveller

Lovely wistful guitar strings are what California dreams are made of. But also English Pastoralism, the romantic annotations abound. A mournful violin, memories, distant, melancholic. It's just a sunlight, dappled soundscape. Easing along, purposefully, with no real sense of direction, but that's its beauty. It's a soundtrack for the open spaces in movies yet to be made. There's magic in these strings that leaves me... Ahhhhhhh contented. 


L'IMPERATRICE - Danza Marilu (feat. Fabiana Martone) (Microqlima)
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by LamontPaul

Nu Disco? It's really, really a lot like old disco. But it is so new! And in case you're in any doubt, it is so totally lovable too.


LEDFOOT - I Do Believe (TBC Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Tim Scott McConnell (aka Ledfoot) is an American musician and songwriter who has been based in Norway for the last three decades. Starting out in 1980 as a member of The Rockats while still in his teens, he then recorded two solo records in the mid-‘80s before co-founding The Havalinas. Here, guitars! drums! action! An upbeat backing band contrasting with it's croaked (crocked?) vocals. Someone whose supped too many a beer maybe, and three-finger whiskies. Is is a true confession? Is it a cynical comment on Bible pushing, redemption seeking, faith proclaiming new converts? That's for us determine. "In Hell I do believe", he sings - a man saved from himself, or the Gods. He's looking for truth, it's inside us all, well that's what he believes. "it doesn't take much effort, to slip and fall from Grace, You shake hands with the devil, you'll find there's no escape", Powerful stuff, and I suppose it could be booze, dope, whatever, that's the devil here. The humour's desert dry, razor sharp, and message positive. This drives, races, braces, searches, and proclaims it's message over a hard rockin' Southern Blues pumping darn good tune!


MARKO NYBERG - Solveig (El Camino)
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by John Robinson

One of Finland's most respected composers of film and television music, John Robinson reviews his new LP, here→


ME AND THEE - School of Blackbelts (Independent)
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by Ancient Champion

Sometimes some bands just have it, you know it as soon as you hear it but you don't know whether they know it too. So, Me and Thee embodies somehow, you can hear on School of Blackbelts the essence of what made all of your greats great. They could be an Outsideleft archetype, a bronze boulder on our lawn out front of our new office. Think of Pavement in the garage still, their slacker greatness abides, think of Vic Goddard, think of someone else you like that much. Me and Thee are going to be generationally huge of course, like, imagine a provincial Libertines, where provincial is absolutely not a derogatory term. They're young, from Wolverhampton-ish. They're the kind of bad boys Joan Didion would've liked in her pomp, not least of all because Me and Thee's lyrics sound like they were torn from the hands of Richard Linklater's script supervisor and thrown in the air... Landing on the right side of limpid, languid genius. They have something to say about suburban Britain and are articulate about it. School of Blackbelts is astonishingly good.


MOUNTAINSCAPE - Towering Monoliths (Celestial Diadem)
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by Lee Paul

There's something unique about UK based instrumental Post-Metal/Rock group, Mountainscape. Towering Monoliths is the first single from the upcoming album 'Iridescent' which will be available on June 7th. For a moment I think, I should ask them to play at my garden party in the summer. And then I think maybe not. The nearest neighbours are less than a mile away.


NADINE KHOURI - The Night Will Keep Us Warm (Streaming and download platforms)
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by Ancient Champion

We last came across Nadine at the end of 2022 when she gave us a Bunch of Five (in the nicest possible way). And we loved her single, Keep on Pushing These Walls so much we played it to everyone whether they were ready to listen or not. By the end, generally they were so ready we'd put it on again. Nadine's about to bust out on tour, well I don't really know that Nadine's a bust out type of person, but touring with Barry Adamson and that promises a damn fine night out. The Night Will Keep Us Warm mellifluously marries Nadine's expressive, dusky, knowing voice, with the musical atmospherics and the moonlight on a body of water notion. It's quiet. It's still. This is recorded music as an indelible imprint on your soul. Listen with care.


NAS & DJ PREMIER - Define My Name (Mass Appeal)
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by Hamilton High

Nas and DJ Premier reunite to mark the 30th anniversary of Illmatic and they make it sound so simple. The subtle nuanced repetition of the tracks and you know, Nas in just the right place. It's just enough magical. And no more than it needs to be. Blissful in many ways.


SADISTIC FORCE - Iron Right (Bandcamp)
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by LamontPaul

It's the speed/black/thrash that gets us every time. Especially the thrash. The Sadistic power trio Force is James Oliver, guitar and vocals, Mike Gupta, bass and backing vocals and Rom Gov on the drums. Put it on repeat and drive at night. It rocks hard. MOTÖRHEAD's "I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)"is on the B-side too.


SANDRO BRUGNOLINI - Ritorno In Macchina (version alt) (Sermi Film Ediz)
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by Ancient Champion

Arggghhhh. I have hit a vein. A really rich vein of Italian film-music adjacent, jazz types. Sandro goes on for a little longer than I would like. But rarely have I heard a piece of music that put me in mind of having sex in a speeding car quite so well as the version of Ritorno In Macchina here. You know that feeling right where the driver just can't keep their eyes on the road? A member in the 50s of the Italian Jazz Gang, Sandro Brugnolini is not kidding around. Brilliantine.


STILL HOUSE PLANTS - M M M (Bison)
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by Ancient Champion

It's easy to think that maybe Still House Plants are one of the most important bands in the UK right now. One of the most intense. M M M is the opening track from the new full length, If I Don't Make It, I Love U. There's a touch of the Jen Orpin's about the video, no? This is how music sounds now. And if yours don't. Maybe consider letting someone else, make it for you.


THE HOLD STEADY - The Death of the Punchline (Positive Jams)
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by Ancient Champion

I love this band so much but sometimes it sounds like there's something wrong to me. Not quite there. Not quite like the good old days where every character on their album Boys and Girls in America seemed to end up in hospital in the aftermath of trying to have a good time. It can happen. But this one, The Death of the Punchline, once you get the extraneous strings out of the way - touch too much Verdi there fellas - is a good one. The American suburban nighthawk street poetry intact. And the guitars! Makes me want to get a Les Paul. If I could lift it up. The last one I owned was a Hondo in '78 or something. Les Paul-lite. Oh wait, I have Les Paul in the loft, I literally forgot about. It's not mine. I don't think about it. It has tuning instability. It doesn't have a whammy bar. They look awful when they do. It's been up there for 10 years. It's a dilemma. The actual owner is on a different continent. I Put The Death of the Punchline on a couple of times to make sure it was alright and I wasn't dreaming. Extra stars for working a Seabreeze (vodka-cranberry-grapefruit + lime for a citrus edge) in near the beginning. I would chill the glass too, wouldn't you? Made me want to get back on the bottle and as dreams go, that ain't bad a bad one at all.


 


THE WESLEYS - A Lot to Lose (Youtube I listened to it on)
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by Ancient Champion

The Wesley's are offer a lot by offering a lot less than a lot of bands that manage to get my finger hovering over and finally onto the 'play' button. How would I know that without hitting play and what makes me do that from time to time? That's the secret sauce The Wesley's PR people bring. Anyway. Some entertaining components. Sounds like a Strokes drum sample getting this underway and bright clean guitars and bass burst in. And early handclaps. Kudos. The underrated secret ingredient in pop. So many secrets here today. What's so beautiful about A Lot To Lose is everything it lacks. It lacks stridency, urgency. It upfront in its languity. Guitars solos fill the guitar solo gap without being guitar solos at all. They check Teenage Fanclub, The Pixies, and The Replacements as influential. That A Lot to Lose feels like a bit of a throwback makes it all the more significant because now in no way is it.


THEE HEART TONES - Cry My Tears Away (Big Crown Records)
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by Ancient Champion

I sometimes wonder wtf Big Crown records are doing. Or perhaps more presciently, how they do it. Thee Heart Tones, a group of kids from Hawthorne, CA, funneling Chicano soul and grabbing facets of their musical chops from the incomparable Brenton Wood. With tears. I mean Brenton Wood makes the sun shine and I get the feeling Thee Heart Tones are gonna do that too when their El Michels produced LP makes it out, v. soon. 


THEN COMES SILENCE - Trickery (Metropolis)
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by Alan Rider

Its not often this reviewer is impressed by Goth tinged rock, but this is definitely one of those rare occasions.  This is, put simply, a stunningly powerful album. I can't fault the playing, production, recording, anything!  Its ferociously good and sets the standard for the genre for a good time to come.  Apparently this was recorded by a slimmed down version of the band as they were forced down to a three piece line up just before a US tour was about to kick off.  Sometimes that sort of event has the effect of rejuvinating and re-energising a band as they become determined not to disintegrate, but to emerge stronger from the experience. That they most certainly have. There are lots of nice touches included in here, little fairground asides between tracks and moments in each song, with a lot going on in the margins.  As always, I'm scrabbling for lazy comparisons to make it easier for you to get the gist of what this album is like.  Peak level Killing Joke?, The Cult burning at their best? Warsaw era Joy Division? None are really adequate comparisons. but that sort of thing, anyway.  It kicks in all the right places, it throbs and pulses, scratches and claws, soars and swoops, pounds and rumbles, and cracks like a whip on every track.   They have thought this through on every track and with every step, from start to finish.   Its a very well earnt five hearts.


VARIOUS - La Suspendida (Silent Pendulum)
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by Toon Traveller

There's a lot to absorb here. Strings, Cello, action, a Kate Bush high pitched, then deep, visceral rasped vocal. Perfection that complements mixed styled strings. No traditional melody, no continual sense of rhythm, or standard timings  Therein lies the magic, it underpins the narrative, emption and aural challenge. This Fizzes with ideas, mystery, and sharp jagged, stabs of voice. Angry, confused, distressed, happy, tender. It's all here, teutonic domination, East European passion. Enough of words listen and love.


WOODS - Lay With Luck (Woodsist)
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by Ancient Champion

I'm wild about Woods as y'all know. What a great Bank Holiday Monday it was then when I got a message about Five More Flowers, a new, dropped with no warning Woods EP. By chance, I'd already added the ancient, The Void to our So, You Got Anything Else section... And Brenton Wood. And now, happily now, this, mild-funk filled flan. If you like a certain type of Woodsy flan, you'll love this. It's all so considered. Like an Ottolenghi pastry you can't afford to bring home. That good. You feel lonely without it. "Do you feel alone, today?" They ask. Yes. And now no. A recording with singing on that I can stand. I feel complete again. 


YOKO KANNO - Blue ft. Maya (Orchard Japan)
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by Toon Traveller

Yoko Kanno was the composier for the animated series, Cowboy BeBop, ahd here she has teamed with Maya to cover her own tune Blue from the final series of that show... What have we got here? Angelic voices open, in that strange Japanese key of G#. Setting a cold morning scene, cupped hands, tears, cold coffee. It's all pensive, redemptive, pained slow build, stretching mind and soul to see a whole new day. Measured slow rise, to a cut loose yell for freedom, not pleading, more 'give me my rights' and 'give me 'em now'. It's that counterpoise of the maudlin romantic music, and self-questioning, slightly lost, but knowing that this is a step on the road she wants to proudly stride, that makes this a spiritual experience. Maya is reborn and invigorated, in the 5 minutes of this song, showing us merely part of her journey. It's for us, listeners, to fill the detail from our own lives, and that's where Blue delights. Kanno says “Even after 25 years, the longing for freedom never leaves us. With Maya's voice as a new set of wings, the song continues to soar even higher, even deeper, into the blue. The imagery Mr. Daichi Yasuda explores is an invitation to a journey for eternity.”


Essential Information
Main Image, Irked screen capture from Backstreets on Youtube

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