This week: millennial paralysis, punk cinematics and Saharan rock tradition

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.


This Is Why



Paramore make their big return, six years after their ’80s pop outing After Laughter. This Is Why is a return to orthodoxy in some ways for the Tennessee trio–the snarling vocals and rock anthems that thrust them into the spotlight are back yet the delivery has matured along with its audience. This Is Why is filled with millennial paralysis–the powerlessness of being trapped between your younger and older self, the frustration of political rage with no ability to change anything–it’s an explosion trapped in a tight space. Whilst This Is Why has been touted as Paramore’s post-punk pivot, it feels like a natural progression for a band who’ve always voiced the anxieties of their generation.–KD


Segue to Infinity

(Numero Group)


Focused on Laraaji’s acclaimed 1978 debut LP Celestial Vibration, Segue to Infinity zones in further on the beginnings of Laraaji’s enduring works within new age music, bolstering his debut with six additional side-long studio sessions from the same time period. Full of the zither melodies and arpeggiations that have long accompanied his work, this set also brings the expanded nature of Laraaji’s musical visions to the forefront, with flutes, idiophone and koto added to a harmonic mix that finds further levels of detail and immersion through phaser and delay units. A much-welcomed expansion of Laraaji’s early discography and the beginnings of his soothing craft.–JH

L’Orchestre National Mauritanian

Ahl Nana

(Radio Martiko)


As artists like Mdou Moctar, Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré popularise Saharan Desert Rock across the world, this release by Belgium’s Radio Martiko explores the foundational emergence of the genre. Recorded in 1972 at the Boussiphone Studios in Casablanca, Ahl Nana contains the first recordings of modern music from the Saharan region. An essential nugget of history, this album charts the reinvention of traditional Saharan music with the introduction of the electric guitar.–AVD





Raven is a process of transformation for Kelela. The long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s Take Me Apart repurposes her established futuristic club R&B sound by leaning into its quieter, personal tendencies. It’s a release that’s deeply in touch with its sense of self; patient and rewarding in its ambient revelations and strong in its vulnerability. Kelela’s vocals are striking against Raven’s washed out dance harmonies, centering her introspective lyricism amongst echoes of a far off dancefloor. An immersive journey that’s a pleasure to get lost within.–KD

Jako Maron

The Electro Experiments of Jako Maron

(Nyege Nyege Tapes)


Upping the previous digital release to an expanded vinyl version, this collection of electro maloya experiments from Jako Maron takes the maloya music of Réunion Island and channels it along varying pathways of electro-abstraction. Working on this assimilation since the 1990s and born on Réunion at a time when maloya was banned by the French administration, Maron’s work keeps maloya’s rhythmic, protest and cultural fundamentals at its core. Using modular synthesisers, drum machines and a 6/8 time signature, Maron’s addictive electro-pulses cycle through rhythmic inventions that orbit low tempo grooves, distinct syncopations and a spellbinding abstraction of maloya’s call and response.–JH


On Grace & Dignity



On Grace & Dignity was born out of project-lead Benjamin Woods’ move back to his parents in Truro after losing his job due to the pandemic. Solemn, sad and sobering, The Golden Dregs’ third album is a cathartic listen while still reeling in moments of joy. Jazz-fused feats warm up haunting chorals, making beauty out of the bleak. Amidst the orchestral wintry, Woods’ breathy baritone croons bring a necessary comfort–a guiding light through a reflective release.–BR

Insólito Universo

Ese puerto existe

(Olindo Records)


On their impressive sophomore effort, Ese Puerto Existe, Paris-based Venezuelan trio Insólito Universo combine folkloric flavours with psychedelic experiments, in a fascinating reimagining of the diverse sounds of their homeland.  Ese Puerto Existe sees Insólito Universo expand upon their innovative fusion of traditional Venezuelan styles with the synth-centric explorations of their much-acclaimed 2020 debut, La Candela Rio.  On the titular, opening track, the hypnagogic lull of the gaita de tambola rhythms, ethereal vocals and reverb-heavy synth sets the otherworldly tone of the record. Full of musical surprises and innovative artistry, Ese Puerto Existe sees the trio reaching new heights in their forging of an utterly distinctive Latin sound.–AVD

Various Artists


(Sähkö Recordings)


Sähkö Recordings takes a deep dive into the weird and wonderful world of Finnish experimental electronic music on the punk and industrial spectrum from throughout the 80s. The compilation was brought together by Piitu Lintunen, who composed the 1993 experimental ambient album Polar Regions with his band Cosmic Trigger alongside running Pöly the seminal punk zine. 7Ai9 features a vast selection of sonics from original demo tapes, completely random obscure compositions that sit between noise and the ethereal realms of cinematic scores.–EH

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Future Is Your Past

(A Recordings)


The Future Is Your Past proves lockdown writing doesn’t need to reflect the times. Written to overcome headman Anton Newcombe’s pandemic-induced anxieties, The Future Is Your Past stands tall against BJM’s previous 19 albums. Each cut is full of pure elation and for a band so established in their sound, it feels like a step forward for their heady space-rock experimentalism. Each layer is well-considered but freeing, from ‘60s organ-rock to auspicious Kraut-sludge. 30 years in and The Brian Jonestown Massacre are still in their prime.–BR

Melody Beecher

Careless Whisper

(Isle of Jura Records)


Isle of Jura have released some pretty spectacular music since their inception; a series of original compositions alongside reissues from the likes of Escape from New York. The latest offering comes from Melody Beecher and is an extended 12-inch with two lovers rock style versions of the seminal 80s hit by George Michael, “Careless Whisper”. If that doesn’t grab you, I simply don’t know what will!–EH