The best album releases of the month, June edition

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Can 'Lost Tapes box set'

June was another month where the best new release was old. However, unlike My Bloody Valentine's reissues, CAN's Lost Tapes Box Set consisted of three hours of unheard music. I cannot recommend it highly enough, the quality is consistent throughout the epic running time, and as a long standing Can fan I was thrilled to hear bits of familiar tunes incorporated into other pieces. It is extraordinary to think this has remained hidden for the best part of 40 years, it is literally a gem.

Piano Magic 'Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet'

my review (the 405)

"Overall this is a desolate but beautiful record. Piano Magic have successfully introduced new elements into their sound and have made them gel. After eleven albums and sixteen years, this latest effort can comfortably sit amongst their best work."

Japandroids 'Celebration Rock'

Anthemic punk rock album of the season for sure. This duo's second full length album begins with fireworks and delivers some cracking songs; some brand new, others such as 'Younger Us' will be familiar from the singles series which they have been releasing over the last while.

Patti Smith 'Banga'
This is the most impressive album that Patti Smith has made in years. It has catchy tunes ('April Fool') as well as longer pieces that touch on spoken word and experimental rock ('Tarkovsky' 'Constantine's Dream'). She is in great voice and the production works well, though I reckon there are more strings on this than on any of her previous releases. Tom Verlaine plays inspiratonal guitar throughout as well.

Tom McShane 'The Ural Winter'

my review

"At the heart of The Ural Winter there is some strong songwriting, so I reckon it would still have satisfied as a conventionally recorded album, but by bringing people together on that summer's day in 2010, a certain spark happened; something that made the music more alive. This is a downbeat, melancholic album that manages to feel raw and alive and is well worth your attention."

Shonen Knife 'Pop Tune'
my review

"At its heart it is a pure pop record, a summery carefree rush through the simple pleasures of life. I still think they could have taken the Ramones influence one step further and shortened some of the songs, but overall this is both an invigorating listen and an impressive statement from the band. Shonen Knife were always touted as an influence by bands such as Nirvana, L7 and Redd Kross, and whilst recent records have been good, Pop Tune helps us see just why this band packs such an influential clout."

Guided By Voices 'Class Clown Spots a UFO'

Sometimes the prolific nature of Guided By Voices can be frustrating. 'Class Clown..' is their second album of 2012 and apparently there is another one to follow. It's a good album, as is its predecessor, 'Let's Go Eat the Factory', but the thing is if you put them both together you get a great one. Still, out of all the reformed bands that have returned in recent years, they are the one that I am most pleased to see back.

Peaking Lights 'Lucifer'

Building on the buzz created by the superb '936', I think 'Lucifer' is more of a grower. Musically it tiptoes around the crossroads between dub reggae and dream pop. Their use of lo-fi electronics and extended melody lines give it a special edge. Worth it for 'Dream Beat' alone.

Ty Segall Band 'Slaughterhouse'

Another madly prolific act, like GBV, Ty Segall has committed himself to releasing three albums this year. I only heard this last week so I haven't had a chance to really get into it, but my initial impressions are that it is one of the best things he has put his name to. Steeped in even heavier psych-rock than his recent collaboration with White Fence, this sounds amazing when played loud. I haven't even got my hands on a proper copy yet, so I'm looking forward to that.

Liars 'WIXIW'

THe deliberately obtuse title (it's pronounced "wish-you") belies the fact that this is one of Liars most accessible and less abrasive records. Surely they can now be considered one of the most important acts of the last decade - every album is different and they have always challenged their listeners. Produced by Mute boss Daniel Miller, synths are more to the fore here, and the noise overload of old has been swapped for a subtle, more electronic feel. Like all Liars records, this rewards repeated listening.

The Walkmen 'Heaven'

A mature, grown-up record, by all accounts. Perhaps this status is underlined by the picture of the band posing with their children on their laps on the back cover. Dad-rock indeed. It turns out this is one of the Walkmen's best albums, its a grower, and the songs kind of creep up on you, rather than grab you straight away.

A Place to Bury Strangers 'Worship'

my review

A Place to Bury Strangers no longer seems like a flat-out noise assault, and ultimately Worship sounds more like themselves than a homage to anyone. It actually sounds great too, and I really like the band's own production work. It is clinical and cold rather than warm and fuzzy but that suits the material. This isn't woozy shoegaze to lose yourself in, it's much more edgy and abrasive than that, and I reckon it works.

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