This week: rock rebellion, airy electronica and Italian house cuts

By in Features





Essential weekend listening.

This week’s rundown is by VF’s Kelly Doherty and Becky Rogers, alongside contributors Annabelle Van Dort, Emily Hill and James Hammond.

Laurel Halo




Laurel Halo inaugurates her new label Awe in style and brings forth her long gestating Atlas LP. A dream-like pooling of sounds, this one keeps elements of jazz and an ensemble sound close to heart but with a logic that keeps the focus indistinct and shifting. In collaging this sonic blur, Halo put a residency at the legendary INA GRM studios to good use. Central piano recordings are met with experimental approaches that let all manner of parallel sounds and undertows come in and out of view. With strings, brass, vibraphones and other sounds similarly reprocessed and reconfigured, Atlas readily works on the idea of musical hues and quietly stakes out its own space within the well-trodden paths of ambient music.–JH



(Ninja Tune)


Singaporean pop-experimentalist yeule releases their third album on Ninja Tune. Pulling from the tactile electronics of hyperpop and ‘90s alt-rock (a surprisingly successful combination), softscars is alternately brutal and sweet. Opener “x w x” is a face-melter of screamo persuasion where softer numbers like ballad “ghosts” and the shoegaze leaning “sulky baby” offer a touching insight into yeule’s raw perspective. Genre-mashing to this extent can be tacky, but softscars is held together by its angsty, rebellious backbone. Rock rebellion is alive and kicking!–KD

Loraine James

Gentle Confrontation



As a title, Gentle Confrontation sets the tone of Loraine James’ latest LP and its open-hearted approach to family, loss and the formative influences of her teenage years. With contributions from friends, recordings of a card game with her grandparents and samples of the influences of her teenage years such as DNTEL and Telefon Tel Aviv, this one draws from a wide and deeply personal net, with its vulnerabilities laid out in the mix. As you’d expect from James, Gentle Confrontation abounds in rhythmic complexities, and here these punctuations help to keep currents of airy electronica tethered to the ground, alongside a new space for her vocals and some deadpan delivery. Another fine addition to an inspired body of work.–JH

The Breeders

Last Splash (30th Anniversary Edition)



A bonafide 90s alt-rock masterpiece, The Breeders’ breakthrough album Last Splash remains one of the most enduring works of its era. Riotous and rough around the edges, Last Splash combines the grittiness of grunge with the unpredictability of art rock; shifting between surf-rock woozy into distortion-laden freak outs. For the 30th anniversary of its release, 4AD have remastered Last Splash from the original analog tapes—complete with two previously unreleased tracks—making this an essential for all Breeders fans.–AVD

Fabio Monesi

Piano Vandals



Ron Morelli’s LIES Records has a vast and dynamic catalogue touching on the core pillars of house and techno as well as slightly more leftfield sounds. One such artist is Fabio Monesi, an Italian house master with a career spanning over a decade, known for his stripped back classic cuts. Monesi’s new double LP Piano Vandal is packed with zingy baselines and catchy chords, making what can only be described as some serious party material.–EH

Teenage Fanclub

Nothing Lasts Forever



For an album shrouded in melancholy, Teenage Fanclub’s Nothing Lasts Forever offers a shimmer of hope. Strong songwriting aplenty, their bright guitar twangs return for these tales of reflection as co-singers Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley divulge their experiences of “getting older”. For many, this reflection would result in some sort of pessimism, but for Teenage Fanclub, writing the record was a time of catharsis. 12 albums into their 30-plus year career and their sweet take on ‘70s jangly power-pop still holds true.–BR

Nairobi Sisters

Promised Land



Death Is Not the End offshoot 333 hit the mark once again with their reissue of the Nairobi Sisters’ sweet ‘75 roots-reggae groover “Promised Land”. Featuring a killer dub cut on the B-side, the angelic voices of Terrie Nairobi and Judy Mowatt glide along strutting bassline grooves, slick drum-work and sensuous horns. A high in demand record famously sampled by Q-Tip on “Whateva Will Be”, “Promised Land” became an essential dancefloor cut on the Brooklyn reggae scene.–AVD

Kylie Minogue




When you release a single as strong as the viral club-ready cut “Padam Padam”, it’s always going to be tricky to make the album live up to expectations. But Kylie Minogue has done it with Tension– a mixing pot of pop richness. Thrilling throwbacks to ‘80s rom-coms in “Things We Do For Love” line-up against Doja Cat-inspired sing-rap (“Hands”) and breezy synth-pop (“Hold On To Now”) making the singer’s return even more impressive. Kylie is back and there’s nothing stopping her.–BR


Blind At The Age Of Four



Jack Warne aka GAUNT offers up his debut album, Blind At The Age Of Four. GAUNT, an intertwined audio and visual project developed since Warne’s days in the Royal College of Art, lays out an equally challenging and familiar proposition. Built around shifting loops and and steady synth work, Blind At The Age Of Four exists in a liminal space–ambiguous in its intention but comforting in its warm execution.–KD

A Certain Ratio

2023 EP



A Certain Ratio are legends with a career that started in 1978 in Manchester and hasn’t slowed down since. As a treat to their loyal fanbase they are back with a very special limited 12” following the success of their album 1982. 2023 features new material alongside three special remixes from Werkha and Jade Parker and Andy Meecham aka Emperor Machine. This special EP marks their 45th year and is definitely not one to sleep on.–EH