The best new albums of the month, February 2015 edition

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Spectres 'Dying' (Sonic Cathedral) Spotify buy
my review (the 405)
"Although there are many revivalist bands being tagged as shoegaze and psych-rock, none of them are using their music as an aural assault weapon in the way Spectres are. Dying may appear to have a ominous bleakness about it on the surface, but it soon becomes clear that this is an urgent, cathartic and downright exciting listen."

Sir Richard Bishop 'Tangier Sessions' (Drag City) listen/buy
my review (the 405)
"It is important to remember that Tangier Sessions does not sound like someone indulging themselves just because they got a new guitar. These improvised pieces are intricate and certainly stand up to repeated listens, and the album makes a good companion piece to Bishop's previous, rather fine, acoustic recordings."

Duke Garwood 'Heavy Love' (Heavenly) Spotify
my review (the 405)
"There is a great sense of space, songs seem to just hang in the air - and Duke's playing and vocal style is raw and dry and earthy.... The way that Garwood has executed this moody and atmospheric take on the blues reminds me of parts of the later Talk Talk albums or maybe even the last Bad Seeds record. This music has an antique heart and, instead of having lots of modern crap plastered on top of it, it has been lovingly restored."

A Place to Bury Strangers 'Transfixiation' (Dead Oceans) Spotify buy
Recapturing the energy of their first two albums, yet managing to bend their noise into something slightly different. They have thought about how to progress whilst still working within the same parameters. They still echo early JAMC in places, but this time the walls of sound aren't as fuzzy, instead they are as sharp and as hard as a diamond.

Public Service Broadcasting 'The Race For Space' (Test Card Recordings) Spotify buy
The first challenge was to prove that they weren't a gimmick, that their penchant for mining archive voices could continue for another full album. They've certainly succeeded at that, as this is a far stronger album than the debut, the material works well as a set, and those samples are used to tell a story (basically the space race of the 60s). The likes of 'Fire in the Sky' and 'the Other Side' are just two of the shivers-up-the-spine moments of drama here. A genuinely moving piece of work.

Cat's Eyes 'The Duke of Burgundy OST' (RAF/ Caroline) Spotify
Faris Badwan (of the Horrors) and Rachel Zeffira move away from their alt-rock roots to create this beautiful set of atmospheric music written for Peter Strickland's film. He also directed Berberian Sound Studio, and the music here has some of the eerieness of Broadcast's score for BSS, although it sounds more folk-based and organic. At times Rachel recalls Francoise Hardy. Shades of late night creepy 70s telly, psych-folk and even Mozart on the requiem piece.

Sea Change 'Breakage' Spotify buy
my review (the 405)
The stage name of Ellen A.W. Sundes, who wrote and recorded this debut album alone in her Oslo bedroom. Despite this – or maybe because of this – Breakage sounds great, Endre Kirkesola's mix is lush and multi-layered and the songs are dynamic, well-crafted and immersive. Sundes may well have chosen to name herself after Beck's beautifully downbeat album Sea Change, but the fact that she has chosen to work within the field of synth-pop means that it she isn't simply following on its coat-tails. It is fair to say that, where the Beck opus created a distinctly woozy melancholic mood, Sea Change's debut full length definitely captures a similar mood.

H Hawkline 'In The Pink of Condition' (Heavenly) Spotify
For his Heavenly debut, the Cardiff boy has relocated to LA and delivered this fine collection of psych-pop gems. His partner Cate Le Bon is on board as producer (last time I saw each of them they were in each other's bands too) and the resulting mix of deft and tuneful indie-rock will please fans of both. In some ways this is Mug Museum's other half (and remember what I thought of that gem).

Dan Deacon 'Gliss Riffer' (Domino) Spotify
This threw me a little. After the majestic ambition of 'America' on first listen this sounded like. at best, a side-step. It seemed too busy and cluttered and I wasn't sure about the vocals, but as it developed it started to make more sense, and the final two tracks, where he gets into a solid post-rock electronica groove (could almost be Battles) are what swayed me in the end. Dan would always get the benefit of the doubt anyway, as he is a force of nature and a musical treasure!

Eternal Tapestry 'Wild Strawberries' (Thrill Jockey) Spotify buy
A long slow trip through the world of psychedelic rock, recorded in a secluded cabin under the shadow of Mount Hood in Zigzag, Oregon. The track names are all from plants specific to the region. Languid improvised guitar parts, snaky melodies and some tape trickery as well.

In an effort to get the monthly retrospectives up in a decent time, I have to admit defeat in trying to hear everything. This time my oversight is the new Six Organs of Admittance album, which I don't have yet, and I should also add that if the new album by the Unthanks is as good as the title track, then it should've crept into this list too.

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