The Week In Records: Hot Chip, Pantha Du Prince; Basia Bulat; Charlotte Gainsbourg…

The last week of January came packed with more fine records, establishing the first month of the year as the time of choice by small labels to launch their most important artists’ output. To top-notch albums by the likes of Vampire Weekend; Spoon; Owen Pallett; Beach House… we can add a whole bunch of interesting new releases, beginning by Charlotte Gainsbourg’s second album, after her first failed to impressed despite a all-star cast of collaborators. ‘IRM’ sees the actress and singer teaming up with Beck, who revisits his passion for Charlotte’s dad music . Together they’ve made a record that would make Serge proud and recalls Beck’s own “Sea Change”. The album can be streamed in full here. The return of Stephen Merritt’s Magnetic Fields “Reality”, described by the songwriter as his folk album is also generating waves of enthusiasm. Alongside Swedish acoustic folkies First Aid Kid; avant-garde jazzists The Shining and returning favorites Tindersticks, they are some of spotify’s most interesting additions in recent days.

British electro-pop champions Hot Chip return with “One Life Stand“, acclaimed by the British press as their best album to date. Other notorious returns are Low’s Alan Sparshawk side project , Retribution Gospel Choir, taking a giant step in their second effort, named simply “2”, which matches in quality the mother’s band offerings. Quasi’s back too with with “American Gong”. The peculiar husband & wife from Portland deliver their best album in a decade and will be part of the line-up of ATP festival curated by their mates Pavement.

Last, but not least in the comeback department is the fifth album by Bristol’s finest Massive Attack. The collective return with “Heligoland” in the company of another stellar cast of collaborators : Hope Sandoval ; Damon Albarn ; Tunde Adebimpe ; Martina Topley-Bird and Portishead’s Adrian Utley. First impression is that, even if superior to their former studio venture, it does not quite mean a return to their earlier peaks. The band is previewing a selection of new remixes through facebook.

Among the best singles and advance songs we find Yeah Yeah Yeah’s third song taken for their electro-infused latest album “It’s Blitz”; Joanna Newsom’s “81” – the first official track from her forthcoming triple album “Have One On Me”; Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward teaming up once again in She and Him; the first fruit of their second album together is “In The Sun”. Indie greats coming from the folk –The Tallest Man On Earth-; art-pop –Parenthetical Girls– and avant-garde electronic –High Places– backgrounds have also featured prominently among this week’s best music playlists.

A few interesting reissues: seminal US indie band Black Tambourines got their complete recordings compiled by indie label Slumberland. Also, Galaxy 500 are seeing their back catalogued reissued by Domino. The trio fronted by Dean Wareham was one of the most influential indie formations of the late eighties.

A fine debut by fresh American voice Basia Bulat with “Heart Of My Own”; The full opera project “Tomorrow, in a year” by the Knife ,which can be streamed in its entirety at the siblings’ website; Gil Scott-Heron’s comeback’ “I’m New Here” and the finest electronic album heard in many moons, Pantha Du Prince’s “Black Noise” are also noteworthy releases and help to wrap an incredible week for music.

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yeah yeah yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of the bands of the decade. The NY trio embodies the best and the worst of a period when style has prevailed over substance. The garage rock of their first EP raised our expectations, but debut “Fever To Tell” proved the rawness they gain plaudits for was more a well-studied pose than the trio’s real ethos, resulting in a disappointment. Karen O shortly became a fashion icon and since then the band’s ability to update their sound and bringing a couple of excellently catchy singles per album has kept them among the A-list. That’s why “It’s Blizt” came as such a surprise. YYY has partially left behind their rockier credentials and embraced a blend of electronic pop that perfectly suited their fashionista attitudes. Comparisons with Blondie and other new-wave greats followed and altogether it stands out as one of the most complete works of their career.

Released on Interscope. Available to listen in Spotify.

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