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Five Hearts In Jan The number of records with 5 Heart reviews in January 2024 was 20

Five Hearts In Jan

The number of records with 5 Heart reviews in January 2024 was 20

by OL House Writer,
first published: February, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

20.

FIVE HEARTS! The number of records with 5 Heart reviews in January 2024 was 20

A CERTAIN RATIO - All Comes Down to This 2024-01-19 (Mute)
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by Alan Rider

A Certain Ratio (let's call them ACR - everyone else does) have slimmed down for this to a trio of principle band members – multi-instrumentalists Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson.   Following on from last years excellent 1982 album, 'All Comes Down To This' is the advance guard single for a new album of the same name, returning to a slightly more stripped down sound, yet with all the experimental funk elements that are the ACR signature very much intact.   ACR have been a fixture on the Post-Punk scene since the very start, sharing a stage and label with Joy Division and other contemporaries, yet by going back to basics they actually sound every bit as fresh as they did back then.  ACR are far from being throwbacks or dinosaurs, rather they have evolved without becoming bloated in the process.  Not a lot of the bands they started out with can honestly say that.


ADRIANNE LENKER - Sadness as a Gift 2024-01-19 (4AD )
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by Lee Paul

Even the extraneous noise at the outset, is great. But that's not at all. Here is music languidly perfect, the instrumentation - just enough, never too much. Fiddles. What is it with Adrianne Lenker that makes her so fab? Lyrically, she effortlessly strips paint. Fills your mouth breathing tonsils with a toxic combination of what William Morris left behind for you. Beauty becomes beauty. Honestly does. Honesty asks. Here she dabbles with some ol' timey sounds but the existential concerns... What a person should be at any given moment in a persons short time, and what a person can become. All because Sadness is a Gift.


ARNE EIGENFELDT - Room for a Moment 2024-01-26 (Redshift records)
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by Toon Traveller

Momentary percussion, prose, ancient culture?. Musical echoes, strangely, Get Carter, edgy UK 70's gangster movie.  Abstract, uncomfortable, rapier surgical cuts, slivered splices of sound. Spooky, dark, menace laden horns, shadowed alleys, empty streets, violence lives, and hope, is survival.  A  soundscape to places you've not been and memories, lost uncles had. Noir Jazz, music, sharp focused shades, a Grey world, black and white in image, bit full of live, vibrancy and colour. It's darkened houses, secluded, whispered voices, in a 'dead men tell no tales', world. Pictures in sound, a storey in your head. Fragments, shards of memories, merged, cut, pasted, and disjointed, but magically whole. A story in flashed backs, strobed forwards. Disassembled, yet singularly whole,  mystery, embodied in the horn's solitary, plaintive, tear stroked wails, evocation in very note 

CELLISTA - Elegie 2024-01-26 (Youtube)
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by Toon Traveller

Imagine the scene: A gritty backdrop of Oakland's underground whispers, set against a haunting requiem and ethereal vocals. This stage births a powerful performance, a social commentary on America's urban scars. Witness the crushing displacement and demolition, rapped and chanted in a tapestry of past, present, and ominous future. A tender lament for lost communities, punctuated by that poetic gem: "At the edge of eternity..." This is more than music; it's a soul-stirring experience, demanding your time and promising to leave you breathless.


CHES SMITH - Minimalism 2024-01-19 (Pyroclastic Records)
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by Toon Traveller

Transported back, late 70's, Kraftwerk Kraut Rock marries Mahavisnu Orchestra, minus 'Birds of Fire' McLaughlin's intensity. Driving rhythm, high pitched voices, swopping swaths of whopping staccato strings. It's a great marriage of sound's ideas, and inspiration. This hops, skips, and jumps it's way on joyous and happy solitary  path, Emerald Steps. It's leaps and bounds, outside fashion and genre, to a place where my Goals Beyond. It's a jolt of expresso, it's a flash of light, it's the wake up alarm. It's a great day's start. Light as a feather, it's a Trans Europe Express's sunlit journey, it's crossed the Rubicon of styles, and arrived in that timeless space, Between Nothingness and Eternity.


GEORGE BOOMSMA - Cashmere Grey 2024-01-19 (Bandcamp)
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by Jay Lewis

I'm colourblind so I'm not entirely sure what colour Cashmere Grey actually is. But if Boomsma has used the shade as a metaphor for those sunless wintery mornings then I'll just take his word for it.

There's a warmth to be found here though, there are intricate guitar textures and strings that gently weave around Boomsma's quietly introspective vocals. It's the time of year for being reflective and this captures that mood wonderfully. As with his two previous singles, Boomsma has graduated from a solely acoustic sound to a full band, and it's a delight. An album is due in the spring. We're eager to hear it.


INDIA GAILEY - Grotesquerie 2024-01-12 (People Places Records)
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by Toon Traveller

From virtuoso cellist India Gailey's third LP, Problematica, out on February 23rd, 2024 on People Places Records, comes Grotesquerie. The Cello you ask, gets scraped, slapped, bowed, and plucked, this in a single instrument, fingers and a bow, electrics trip in later. It's always a challenge to hear real invention, and her is that challenge. There's melody, rhythm, there's evocation and sense of gathering fear. It's full of anger and rage, and bittersweet resentment.  As the playing crescendos, a discernible echoplex adds, and enhances confusion, and darkens the cello's world. It's that sense of masterful composition, ideas, and invention that pervades the whole, it's captivatingly, intriguing in ideas and delivery.


JIM WHITE - Names Make the Name 2024-01-26 (Drag City)
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by Toon Traveller

How many tracks open with a drum solo, not enough, that's how many. If this is anything to go by, drum solo's boring? Maybe if it's John Bonham's bombast, or Ian Paice's hit as much as you can as fast as you can thang. Drums as composition set the tone for piano stabs, and cuts. 'Skins' and 'rims'  it skips, it prances, it shuffles, it brushes, shakes, rattles and almost rolls. Exploration, Extrapolation, Exemplification. This has the magic you need on a dark night to explore new music, but you you'll need to bring an open mind, soul and heart. Listen, give yourself, and you'll believe. Drums exist for reasons other than to give the band a rest at their concerts.


JULIA HOLTER - Spinning 2024-01-12 (Domino)
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by Jay Lewis

'Lacuna luck/Thaw this lung/Don't save my life/Let me move/Let me roll...' the opening lines of 'Spinning' (delivered over a rhythm that sounds like a washing machine, err, spinning), are as beguiling as ever. But, as I've never listened to Holter for anything approaching clarity, fabulous bon mots or any sing-along slogans, that's fine.  I frequently feel that I am waking from a dream when I listen to Holter and still not entirely sure whether I am still in that dream or not and 'Spinning' is not exception.  It is playful and sensual, it may be about love (she says "It’s about being in the passionate state of making something: being in that moment, and what is that moment?” - glad we cleared that up), there's a pun about porpoises and there are other fish-based references. She's clearly having a whale of a time. 


KALEAH LEE - Rotting Fruit 2024-01-19 (Don't Know)
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by LamontPaul

Vancouver raised Kaleah Lee's Rotting Fruit is from a forthcoming EP that promises to be a pale, slight, epic one. Rotting Fruit is stripped to the constituent parts, with quietly insistent hushed vocals, over a delicately picked acoustic guitar. Like a private yearning that daren't be spoken, tacitly shared. Kaleah's selling out San Francisco, she's disarming Taylor Swift. She's making a fan of Bon Iver. Like Elvis, 20,000,000 TikTok Fans Can't Be Wrong. I never think popularity validates music though. If I did I wouldn't be sitting here writing this. Popularity invalidates music. We know that. Here Kaleah displays a grace akin to youthfulvMark Kozelek, or something. She goes easily to unsettling depths and ascends to a vertiginous stratos (Hex#070F54 or RGB is 7, 15, 84 for reference). “‘Rotting Fruit’ was emotionally liberating to write,” Kaleah says. “Navigating through my beliefs, disbeliefs, and who I feel I am at my core has been challenging, but more importantly it’s been a very freeing process. I didn’t know how much I needed to release what I was feeling until I did through this song.”  Kaleah has been writing songs for two years. Future Giant.


KIM GORDON - Bye Bye 2024-01-19 (Matador)
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by Ancient Champion

In the world of Kim Gordon, would-be Kim Gordon's and Kim Gordon wanna-be's, that sort of sound like her, there remains really after 30 years only one Kim Gordon. The iconic one you hear here. Bye Bye is from a forthcoming LP The Collective on Matador which is a fine label, yet the fact remains that the music biz is fucked up because this should be on a major with buildings wrapped in Kim Gordon all the ways along Hollywood and Sunset. Probably only be a skullfucking minority interest instead. Gave my speakers a work out with it and my skull is fucked, and for that reason I am recommending everyone try it. Coco Gordon Moore in the video. Try the shampoo too.


LEE BAGGETT - Nature's Vagabond 2024-01-19 (LB)
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by Lee Paul

Tenderly dipping his toe into Willy Vlautin territory, Lee's languid Americana is as pleasurable as some of the great ones. You can probably fit the name of your favorite authentic drifter/ne'er do well right here. Rich with rocknroll melody. Lee Baggett is a delight. 


LES BIG BYRD - Diamonds, Rhinestones and Hard Rain 2024-01-19 (Chimp Limbs Recordings)
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by Alan Rider

A wonderful great big psyche shimmer of a single from Les Big Byrd.  We loved their previous 11 minute epic single 'Mareld' and this is different to that, but is no less brilliant for it.  They really have something here.   The album of the same name will be a corker.   Video is nicely done too.


LITTLE MAN TATE - Undercover Lover 2024-01-19 (Best of Three)
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by Toon Traveller

Do we need 00's guitar pop, heard it, Arctic Monkeys, seen it - Kasabian, liked it, Glasvagas, bought  CD - Kaiser Chiefs. Little Man Tate  return with danced up, pop powered sounds. Probably great live, packed club, shuffling pensioners, (me), Gen X youth, mixed-up, for a good Friday night out. This delivers, raw vocals, "it's all starts over again," and  "made for each other, does he really love her" yeah lyrics grab the ear. It's magic - it's got what all great pop songs need, an earworm riff, and a belt it out Karaoke chorus. Air punching, front room dancing, foot stomping, bed diving, guitar pop at it's very best.


SONIC YOUTH - Walls Have Ears 2024-01-26 (Goofin’)
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by Alan Rider

We love Sonic Youth here at OL and love what Kim Gordon is up to these days even more.  This double album came out as a sort of official live bootleg-y release back in 1986, but was quickly deleted, so has been reissued in the now customary confusing and wallet emptying range of formats and deluxe coloured vinyl editions, festooned with unnecessary extras like a flexidisc and postcards.  Put all that nonsense to one side though and what you have here is a raw, rough and ready album drawn from three 1985 UK gigs captured during a critical time in the band’s early development. It's visceral, it's scrappy in places, but there is no hiding the fact that Sonic Youth represented the future of underground, edgy, and (yes) hip music and exerted an influence that is still reverberating to this very day. Pushing boundaries was always what Sonic Youth were all about and this is a document of when they started to push, really push. Poor copyists like Jesus and Mary Chain hadn't a hope of emulating Sonic Youth, who burned bright before they finally burnt out in 2011, yet whose ex-members are still forging with brilliance today.


SQUID - Fugue (Bin Song) 2024-01-26 (Warp Records)
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by Alan Rider

'Fugue' is subtitled 'Bin Song' because it was originally recorded for their 'O Monolith' album but didn't quite make the cut.  Still, here it is now and a good job too. Like a latter day Fall on this, Squid are in fine declamatory form.  Remember 'Undergrowth', their dub-ish single from April '23, with the Squid video game you can play online to accompany it?  No? Well I remember it anyhow.  You can always search on OL for the review. This is as good.


THE MARY WALLOPERS - Irish Rock n Roll 2024-01-19 (BC Records)
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by Toon Traveller

A 'top o' the streaming platforms, a chance to buy a 'Cream Stout Vinyl Copy'. Clever joke, for a great song. It's a call to recognise the oppressed everywhere, rages against small minds, small cold hearts, and the victims of austerity. Celebrates small time, dodgers, the real rebels. Small time petty crime, real people, desperate victims, are NOT the enemy. Cross haired focus, slum landlords, petty officials, corrupt politicians, the clergy, and hypocrisy, Ireland, England, States, China same story, different faces. Great messages of redemption, while celebrating a new hope in Ireland. 


THE VINTAGE YELL - Wrong Direction 2024-01-26 (Mesquite Records)
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by Toon Traveller

'Mesquite' a plant native to Texas used to flavour BBQ smoke. Texas flavour? Never been, sounds real to me. Lost lover, wasting in Texas dust bowl town, pleading for an exit. Twanging guitar, power chords, a rasping voice, tired, life weary. Small town, empty spaces, big sound. 'Hungry dawg' in the lyric. Blues harp cements a final night gathering, last dice hoping, bar room lounging, ready for that border break (70's Tex Mex rock theme). It's only 4 minutes long, but it spells out a whole wasted disillusioned life in those 240 seconds.


THE WANDERING HEARTS - River to Cry 2024-01-19 (Chrysalis)
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by Toon Traveller

Country, Americana strikes a chord, flat or sharp. This is the former. "It's a long way down" sure is, swooning steel Guitar, and self pitying vocals, saccharinely sweet, cloying, it's drifts on a journey to a string middle passage, inoffensively supine and unpleasant.


THE WATERBOYS - The Whole Of The Moon (Video version)/This Is the Sea (Fast Version) 2024-01-12 (Chrysalis Records)
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by Jay Lewis

When I saw The Waterboys headline a festival a couple of years ago, they opened with 'The Whole of The Moon'. None of that, 'let's save our most famous song to the encore' malarkey. No, that's just too convenient, too conventional, too predictable. Sure, it's one of the greatest songs you have ever heard, but they have more, much more. And my, how they proved that. Equally, there may appear to be little rhyme or reason as to why the promo video version of the song should be different from the actual record (did I suggest that Mike Scott could be a contrarian? Did  I?)  But that video version has now re-emerged as part of the 9 disc (yes, 9), exploration of their majestic 'This is the Sea' album, I'm certain that there will be numerous other versions unveiled. The box also included the pounding 'fast version' of the title track, with Tom Verlaine's anxious guitar playing helping to turn it into something deliriously different.  And I just adore that 'running around and banging your drum/like it's 1973' line getting a twenty-first century update.


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