The good people at Norman Records provide the latest in our genre rundowns, picking out 10 must-have rock, pop and indie records.
They might not have an actual bricks and mortar record store (although if you’re out and about in Leeds you can drop in on the warehouse and pick up your orders), but when it comes to sorting you out with the best new music, look no further than online record shop Norman Records. So how do you get that personalised treatment when there’s no record store guy to exasperate with your wide-raging yet incredibly specific requests?
Here’s how: we asked Robin and Clint at Norman Records to “give us anything with a song in it” and sure enough he delivered the goods, pairing big name releases like Björk’s devastating Vulnicura with insider tips like Grooms’ Radiohead meets Unwound LP Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair. Tuck in and enjoy.
Björk’s response to heartbreak and familial devastation is to make yet another world, one with the expanse of Biophilia, the torch songs of Vespertine and the scene changes of Homogenic. Vulnicura is not a meditation on grief, but an upheaval of it. It’s marvellous: immaculately composed, but totally at loss. Don’t get comfortable. Cry a lot.
Buy this record and then go outside. Eternal Tapestry are a psych rock band into stargazing, riff-repeating and skinny dipping, and they recorded Wild Strawberries in celebration of the treeline that existed around them. The result is one hefty behemoth of spaced-out guitar wheezing, decorated with organ synth, buried vocal hums and skyward distortion.
First we should excuse the artwork, and also the band name – but that leaves us with plenty of time to celebrate Joey Fourr’s love of strawberry ice cream, and also their record, which is damn great. It sounds kind of how strawberry ice cream tastes, I imagine: dream pop meets funk in a twee cavalcade, melodies shining gleefully and resolutely like Mac Demarco times fourr.
America’s baroque pop president, Sufjan Stevens hasn’t let up with the grand statements in over a decade, but for Carrie & Lowell he drew the curtains, dusted off his guitar and recorded some of the quietest music of his career. These eleven songs detail his mother’s death and their complicated, unresolved relationship. It’s his most subtle work, and it reveals hidden personal truths that lay dormant in older songs on Michigan and Illinois.
Really though: it’s not country music. Vision Fortune are just fantastic liars, which is handy, considering they sound a lot like Liars; their new record is carried by sinister percussive marches, dead-eyed synth and creepy intangible ambience. To our dismay, these are actually pop songs, just worn and torn and inhabited by opportunistic monsters. We love it.
Grooms Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
This is one of those records that is both dazzlingly special and resolutely familiar. It sits somewhere between Real Estate, Radiohead and Unwound. And isn’t that a place we would all like to sit? They love shoegaze and they love a distorted chord change. As, again do we.
Lightning In A Twilight Hour Slow Changes
Are you ready to be heartbroken? Bobby Wratten has been on the verge of tears since he first invented the Field Mice way back when. Here, he does what he does best – mangles plaintive pastoral melancholy pop with electronic innovation. It’s so good to have him back.
York is not known for big noises but Fawn Spots have thrown their cream teas in the River Ouse and made the kind of visceral racket which will appeal to those who had their ears destroyed by Husker Dü all those years back. Glorious.
Answering their own question of why ’80s indie pop and Bollywood soundtracks have never been spliced together properly, Maggie8 make luscious catchy pop with one eye on the radio dial and another eye on the cinema. Truly inventive stuff.
The perfect concoction of the ramshackle folk once made by Tim Buckley, Nick Drake and John Martin with a huge dollop of the kind of jazzy freewheeling progressive clatter not seen since Van Morrison wrapped up Astral Weeks. Yet at times it has the understated melancholy of a Jason Molina relocated to Laurel Canyon.