The best album releases of the month, July 2013

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I've flicked through the slim pickings of July's release schedule and I've come up with these few albums. Usually I listen to 25 or so each month, this month there were only ELEVEN! So here are my choices, plus some words on a new double compilation of one of my favourite bands, and some audio-visual treats to flesh out the page a bit....

Piano Magic 'Heart Machinery (A Piano Magic Retrospective 2001-2008)'
It's never easy to hear that one of your favourite bands may have gone "on hiatus", but if that is what has happened to Piano Magic, then this epic 27 track retrospective is as fine a way as any of drawing a line under their career. As a fan, I have a lot of these tracks already, as many are collected from the EPs that were released around the time of 'The Troubled Sleep' and 'Disaffected' albums. I was reluctant to grab this for that reason but I'm glad that I did, as the whole collection sits together so well. It's a good introduction to the band as well as it touches on so many aspects of their sound; the wordy hauntology of 'I Came to Your Party Dressed as a Shadow', the blissed-out guitars of 'Speed the Road...', the electronic pop of 'Incurable' and the pure folk pieces like 'Fantasia on Old English Airs'. Not to mention the un-trumpeted guest appearances from the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Low's Alan Sparhawk. No slouches. As an epitaph or an introduction, 'Heart Machinery' works as both.

Grumbling Fur 'Glynnaestra'

Another collaboration between Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker and their finest release to date. This takes Tucker's distinctive folk stylings, shades of his experimental drone work and O'Sullivan's synths to create something impressive and more accessible than many might expect. The combination coincidentally resembles a more psychedelic Depeche Mode at times. Psychedelic, melodic and well worth exploring further. 'The Ballad of Roy Batty' sets the famous Rutger Hauer speech from Blade Runner to suitably elegiac music.

Grumbling Fur - The Ballad of Roy Batty from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Grant Hart 'The Argument'

Whilst Bob Mould remained fairly prolific after the demise of Husker Du, their other main songwriter, Grant Hart, did not. He is making up for that now by releasing a 20-song album inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost no less! This is a very varied and ambitious record, which a certain points reminds me of Man Who Sold the World-era Bowie. Some good songwriting and great to see him back with something you can really get stuck in to.

Scott and Charlene's Wedding 'Any Port in a Storm'

This was down the new releases pile for a week or two as I was initially put off by the name, but Scott and Charlene's Wedding turns out to be an indie-guitar band in the classic mould of Jonathan Richman, Pavement, Television or Galaxie 500. Led by Australian Craig Dermody this album is written about his move to New York and at its best sounds as giddy and exciting as that might suggest.

Fuck Buttons 'Slow Focus'

Relatively long awaited third album from this duo, and the first of theirs (and ATP Recordings's) to dent the UK top 40. On the first few listens it is a bit of a slow burner, with the really strong tracks lurking near the end. Not as strong as predecessor 'Tarot Sport' although it does have the potential to be a grower.

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