You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this month: discover the young and dumb punk of Dune Rats, The Monochrome Set’s Who-like crescendos and more.
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The Amazing – Picture You
“I like them and hate them all equally,” Christoffer Gunrup, singer and songwriter in Swedish trio The Amazing, admits of the songs on his band’s third album, and that tension courses through ‘Picture You’. Opener ‘Broken’ twists from light and airy guitar to brooding bass, all accompanied by Gunrup’s mournful vocals. ‘To Keep It Going’ is a slow, sad shuffle, Gunrup’s lyrics echoing in the distance beneath stately organs and understated snare drums. ‘Fryshusfunk’ is, as its title suggests, lithe and funky. While it’s still shrouded in the frontman’s down-in-the-mouth moodiness, its slinking rhythms offer the album’s most striking and effective contrast between light and dark.7/10
Dune Rats – Dune Rats
Judging by the first track of their debut album, Dune Rats believe in no-frills fun of the young and slightly dumb variety. Set to pacy lo-fi, the only lyrics on ‘Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana’ are bawled repetitions of its title. The Brisbane trio also include a two-chord rattle about ET (‘ET’) and a Fidlar-esque ode to hedonism simply called ‘Drugs’. However, there are moments of smart subtlety. Driven by bouncing major chords, the excellent ‘Funny Guy’ is how you’d imagine Mac DeMarco would sound in a punk band, and the campfire singalong ‘Lola’ sees these long-haired dudes successfully attempt to craft a lighters-aloft love song. Discovering Dune Rats’ hidden depths is a pleasure.8/10
Turzi – C
On third album ‘C’, Romain Turzi adds the operatic voice of Caroline Vallain to his mix of krautrock and psych. Alongside the Versailles musician and his seven-piece band, Vallain’s powerful soprano – best heard on ‘Cygne’ – is used more as musical texture than a standalone element, bestowing drama, mystery and classical elegance on a record where atmosphere is king and genre is an afterthought. ‘Chouette’ opens with spooky synth and clavinet before breaking into fuzzy car-chase funk, and the garage stomp of ‘Cardinal’ is almost pinky. Unfolding like a psych compilation from Manchester’s Amorphous Androgynous (who included Turzi’s ‘Afghanistan’ on their 2009 volume), ‘C’ is hardly commercial, but it emerges as a hugely rewarding listen.7/10
The Monochrome Set – Spaces Everywhere
It’s a rare boon to find a reunited band who’ve matured without becoming dull. The Monochrome Set, formed in Hornsey, north London in 1978, were early proponents of jangly ’80s indie with a bit of new-wave spike; they stuttered to a halt several times but came back renewed in 2012. ‘Spaces Everywhere’, their third album since returning, is spooky, catch, skiffly pop, swinging between scratchy rockabilly on ‘Iceman’, big Who-like crescendos on ‘Avenue’ and, on ‘The Z-Train’, adventures in Coral-esque psych. Throughout, singer Bid’s smooth baritone paints intriguing vignettes (“He was the best thing that you’ve ever seen in Swansea”, goes ‘When I Get To Hollywood’), adding colour to an already rich album.8/10
Plastic Mermaids – Inhale The Universe EP
On this second EP, Plastic Mermaids combine the sounds of alt-folk, space-rock and chamber pop. The Isle Of Wight quintet echo the orchestral and extraterrestrial sounds of Spiritualized on tracks like ‘Playing On Your Mind’, where vocalist Douglas Richards offers his best Jason Pierce impression as he wearily pleads, “God said I would be alright”. The pick of the bunch, though, is seven-minute odyssey ‘Saturn'; strings and theremin interweave on the cinematic opening before the whole thing launches into a piano-led pop fantasy that The Flaming Lips would be proud of. The cowbell and bass-heavy funk of its climax is the high point of a record that maintains an uplifting atmosphere throughout.6/10
Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology
The hairy, fat-bellied figure adorning the sleeve of Bad Guys’ second album rather sums up its sound. ‘Bad Guynaecology’, which follows the east London heavy-rock quartet’s self-titled 2013 debut, is ridiculous, funny and vulgar. Six-minute opener ‘Crime’ is a grotty Motorhead chug about a child – possibly gravel-voiced frontman Stu – who steals a toy truck from Toys’R’Us and tells his dad: “You should’ve brought me the truck, YOU FUCK!” ‘Reaper’ is super fast, with thundering drums and waddling ZZ Top guitar. They sound craziest on ‘Motorhome’, a ferocious fantasy about buying a caravan: “Heading to your town/Fucking in your garden/Trampling on your flowers!” Never mind bad, these guys sound truly abhorrent.5/10