It’s the end of the month. Makes sense to look back on some of the best albums May had to offer. So why not.

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Savages – ‘Silence Yourself’

(Matador, released May 6th)

Says reviewer Joe Zadeh: “Savages’ brand of post-punk nods subtly to Bauhaus and Wire, but their translation is a wilder, impatient beast, squealing with immediacy and thrashing with insurgency. There is a modern, angry masterpiece in here.” (Review)

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Ghostpoet – ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’

(PIAS, released May 6th)

Says reviewer Matt Oliver: “Patting you from the palm of his hand, Ghostpoet sits loftily, courting a preservation chamber lit by synths and orderly electronics capable of a domineering aspect set to an unhurried flicker: ‘Them Waters’ is something for new wave vampires to lock themselves into.” (Review)

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The National – ‘Trouble Will Find Me’

(4AD, released May 20th)

Says reviewer Reef Younis: “This long into the band’s career, the narratives here – on love, on loss, etc – aren’t new, but they’re crafted with an intimacy and intensity that inspires a simple, continued devotion. ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ contains the same qualities that made 2005’s ‘Alligator’ and 2007’s ‘Boxer’ albums so vital and personal.” (Review)

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Laura Marling – ‘Once I Was An Eagle’

(Virgin, released May 27th)

Says reviewer Gemma Hampson: “It’s a long album – 16 songs with interlude – but ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ (appropriately) flies by. New intricacies emerge on every listen, from the ghostly percussion of ‘Little Love Caster’ and the sweetest of melodies in ‘Pray For Me’. Without doubt, this is one of the folk albums of the year.” (Review)

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Primal Scream – ‘More Light’

(Ignition Records, released May 13th)

Says reviewer Robin Murray: “A sprawling document, more of an old-fashioned double-LP than an iTunes listing, ‘More Light’ is, in short, an inspirational return. By no means their most straightforward endeavour, it finds Primal Scream covering ground they know well as well as exploring fresh territory.” (Review)

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Vampire Weekend – ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’

(XL, released May 13th)

Says reviewer Gareth James: “Having described this record as “darker and more organic”, it’s certainly true that Vampire Weekend has found a sonic subtlety that suits them. Songs take unexpected diversions: the charging rhythm of ‘Worship You’, for example, is wonderfully offset by a distorted, intense and giddy solo, which slowly collapses into a multi-tracked wash of soaring vocals.” (Review)

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Find more albums reviewed on these here pages.

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Usually, we’d have a guest reviewer covering this lovely spread of new singles. But we’ve been cruelly stood up, and by a stalwart of the British indie scene, too.

It’s okay, we forgive him, as he’s evidently a splendidly nice chap. Why does it always rain on him? We can’t quite recall.

However, it means that you, readers – not to mention the artists below – are now in the hands of Clash’s own opinions.

Uh oh, right?

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The Good Natured – ‘Skeleton’

These synthy sorts (pictured, above) might call Hampshire home, but they’re hardly southern softies based on this sharp-hooked blast of silkily produced stomp-along pop. It’s like someone grabbed Ellie Goulding by the blouse and shook her wildly – not too wildly, of course – and stressed: “Ellie, you can be better than this… this… toss.

Only, that’ll never happen now, as The Good Natured have beaten her to the punch bowl. One laced with tasty booziness. One that’ll make you sick after so many visits, but for now it’s hitting the spot.

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Bastille – 'Laura Palmer'

There’s a great bit in this song – a song that sounds like a thousand songs before it – where a dog butts in and sort of howls, like a dog that’s not been fed in three days. At that moment, the ears actually find something that exists outside of absolute predictability. More dogs in pop, please.

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Gaz Coombes – ‘Break The Silence’

That Coombes is a genius of the Britpop era is in no doubt. The first two Supergrass albums, and even much of the third: solid-gold classics of the period, which stand up to repeat plays today, even when the listener isn’t indulging in slightly less-than-sober nostalgia.

‘Break The Silence’ is all throbs and pulses where Supergrass traded in catchy riffs – but its maker’s innate pop sensibilities still shine through. It crunches and rushes, weaves and bobs and bleeps a little, too. It’s a little bit brilliant, actually. Almost as if glam-rock was re-written by those Daft Punk robots. Someone give this man an MBE for services to pop, like, now.

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Miles Kane – 'Don't Forget Who You Are'

From a songwriter whose individual qualities are evident whatever style he’s playing around with, to one whose attempts to operate in a purely solo capacity are regularly shadowed by associations: be that his Last Shadow Puppets co-captain Alex Turner or Paul Weller, who worked with Kane on his new LP, ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’.

This title-track might serve as self-referential, in the sense that Kane does possess nous enough to carve a niche that is his own, so long as he isn’t too distracted by collaborations. That’ll have to happen in time, though, as this song doesn’t cut any rug in a particularly singular fashion – despite a rollicking, rousing chorus so super-sized that it can bring down passing planes. That vocal effect at 2.22 is just horrible, mind. No need, Kane. No need.

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Mark Owen – 'Stars'

Aww, little Mark. Always the runt of the Take That litter. Had a thing for citrus fruit for a while there – likewise Feeder, of course – but he’s come through it to today be making accomplished-enough adult-pop-rock like this. And, y’know, it’s about five-times preferable to Bastille’s soulless reprint of Coldplay. ‘Stars’ is a sweet number that, if you didn’t know it was by Mark Owen, would probably have you Shazam-ing Radio 2 to see what young buck was producing such subtly impressive fare.

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Muse – ‘Panic Station’

In Mark Owen’s video, he’s a wandering astronaut, a little lost. Here, members of Muse zap themselves across a city, acting like proper pricks from a future no man worth their mind would want to exist in. Owen’s time-traveller: preferable company. If ‘Panic Station’ was a videogame it’d probably be great: Jet Set Radio meets Gitaroo Man meets Rampage. Based on the visuals here, anyway. Shame the song’s complete balls…

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Don’t worry: someone other than one of the Clash team will be ‘on this’ next time. Which is for the best, as we don’t want to piss off every PR out there.

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Three years after exploding onto the soundscape with ‘Lucky Shiner’ (Clash review), ursine enthusiast Gold Panda plods back into the spotlight, grasping the musical product of his travels.

A melodic exploration of the cities that the electronic producer has tapped up whilst touring, we begin our voyage in the Orient. ‘Junk City II’ plinks with Japanese fervour, inspired by the films of controversial director Takashi Miike.

We return eastwards later in ‘My Father in Hong Kong 1961’, a track which Derwin R. Powers has explained as an attempt to produce a caricature – a bad Westerner-made, Asian-sounding record.

Prised from the East we’re thrown south to ‘Brazil’, and surrounded by hyperactive, dripping percussion – then journey further downwards to slash through the thickets of the Peruvian jungle on ‘The Most Liveable City’.

According to Derwin, ‘Brazil’ reflects the sensation of seeing the disparity between the old and new economically prosperous country. “Like, I was drinking a daiquiri for $40 at the top of a skyscraper that looks like shit,” he’s explained of the track.

Providing a calm base in the midst of all this travelling, ‘An English House’ is an ASMR-inducer that rests on warm pads, punctuated by delicate tinkles, energetic handclaps and feathery vocals.

‘Half of…’ contains all the crackling, happy-sad flavour of Gold Panda’s past discography, but with harsher textures than before – it’s disorientating and inquisitive, physically uprooting you from your comfort zone. An ode to the oddities of our global corners. 

7/10

Words: Felicity Martin

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If you came to love Jon Hopkins from laid-back electro releases or his Mercury Prize-nominated King Creosote collaboration, ‘Diamond Mine’, then be warned: this is not more of the same.

‘Immunity’ might be the most dance-focused album Hopkins has ever produced. It bursts with techno beats that jump wildly from deep and dark to bright and euphoric.

You’re welcomed into this new world with the literal sound of Hopkins opening the door to his studio – those noises of everyday life he likes to throw into his mix, beats emerging from a cup of tea in a local café.

But this soon makes way for muddy pulses of electro in tracks like ‘Open Eye Signal’, growing and swelling over swirls of celestial ambiance, or the huge ‘Collider’, with its twisting time signatures. It makes you hope there’s a hidden entrance in that café that takes you down to a dingy club full of sweaty people going mental.

There’s a great blend of Hopkins’ chilled-out side, like the shattered woody piano on ‘Form By Firelight’ or the wisps of Thom Yorke-like vocals on ‘Sun Harmonics’, alongside this newer, bigger club sound.

As an album, ‘Immunity’ takes you everywhere, while, track by track, you have your pick: from something to get everyone dancing, to the soundtrack of the sun rising over a perfect night, ending with a beautiful bonus bit of King Creosote for the hypnotic title track.

7/10

Words: Gemma Hampson

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Modest as ever, Obaro Ejimiwe (aka Ghostpoet), finishes the first song and proclaims, “I didn’t think anyone was going to be here.” Well we are, and Village Underground is a heaving mass. Normally bands in this venue make the place sound like what it is – a brick railway arch – but somehow Ghostpoet and his three-piece live band bring a real warmth to the room.

Perhaps he has lost his porkpie hat and big coat sponsor (Ghostpoet’s usual outfit of choice), as tonight Ejimiwe is stripped down to his shaved head and loose vest, sweating it out with the rest of us. “Hands up who is surviving London right now,” he says, bringing us closer in. It is a bit of a giveaway to the next song, but ‘Survive It’ followed by ‘Liiines’ does not disappoint.

On record the tunes have the feel that they are born from messing about with effects buttons. When played live they head off into another dimension, and that's a big part of Ghostpoet's appeal. Augmented by a fantastic, loose-limbed drummer who is refreshingly playing raw, with no headphones guiding him, and still managing to keep up with the beats flying about in all directions, the songs take on new forms. When the band plays ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, they have a tough job to imitate the album version, which features the work of legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, but they pull it off.

An important addition to the live band is Fabiana Palladino on keyboards. Palladino appears to take delight in sneaking some serious house piano and dub bass into the songs. Over the top, Ghostpoet tightly triggers off his own effects when he sings, dropping right in with the keyboards and drums. Mid-set, during ‘Sloth Trot’, Ejimiwe even tries out a guitar and he seems as surprised as the audience.

The band offers up such an array of sounds for us to enjoy and the beat poetry over the top couldn’t be more suited to it. Some singers use vocal triggers to get themselves off the hook but Ghostpoet’s use of them makes the words stronger and that’s what he pulls us back to time and time again.

Woodpecker Wooliams is welcomed to the stage to guest on new single ‘Meltdown’. She is the second of two star turns (the first being Lucy Rose who pops up on ‘Dial Tones’) and it is a joy to see how more traditional sounding voices bounce off Ghostpoet’s vocals.

It all starts making sense by the time we reach ‘Comatose’, with words like “I feel lower than I’ve ever been”. Ghostpoet has downer lyrics but his uplifting beats make the crowd go crazy, at this stage the photographers have no choice but to turn their lenses onto the audience. Ghostpoet joins in too,and despite claiming he “never ever does this” he can’t help asking for the house lights to be turned on so he too can capture the moment. He has connected us all.

Words: James Young

Photos: Carys Lavin

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Clash is pleased to present readers with a lovely free download from Icelandic artist Ólöf Arnalds, the track 'Af Stað'.

Currently promoting her well-received third studio LP, 'Sudden Elevation' (Clash review), which came out in February 2013, Arnalds says of 'Af Stað':

"It is a song that I wrote for Björk and Sigur Rós' concert, Náttúra, in August 2008, just before the economic collapse. The lyric is a twist on a famous Icelandic nationalistic song, 'Hver á Sér Fegra Föðurland', which means 'Who Has a Prettier Fatherland'. It describes how  untouched and beautiful Iceland is, and how distant it is from the wars and ugliness of the world. My lyric is a plea that Icelandic people do not get drunk from their greed."

Arnalds releases a new single from 'Sudden Elevation', 'German Fields', on June 10th, and tours as follows:

June
4th – London, St John Church, Bethnal Green
5th – Glasgow, Broadcast
6th – Manchester, TAKK
7th – Brighton, Unitarian Church

August
17th – Green Man Festival

Get 'Af Stað' below…

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When it comes to Haim, it’s fair to say that the Hype Machine has been working overtime. Since releasing their debut EP ‘Forever’ they’ve wowed at SXSW, commanded arena support slots for the likes of Florence + The Machine, headlined their own tour and topped the BBC's Sound of 2013… Not bad for a trio yet to release its first album.

Striding on stage, they start with the familiar a cappella of ‘Better Off’. It’s a brooding beginning, during which the sisters hammer away on their own individual drums, backed all the way by the powerhouse that is Dash Hutton on the main kit. Following this pounding entrance, we’re given two currently unreleased tracks: ‘The Wire’ is a country-rock affair, with each sibling taking it in turns to talk-in-tune. ‘Honey & I’, meanwhile, sounds like an up-to-date take on an old ‘Rumours’ bootleg.

The cascading harmonies of their most recent single ‘Falling’ translate well to the stage, showing that in the absence of studio production values they can still harmonise just as well. However, as the audience really starts to get into it, the momentum drops for the sultry ‘Go Slow’ and ‘Send Me Down’, which they confess to only having played live once before.

From where we’re standing, there seems to be a certain degree of detachment in the air. The venue itself is quite restricting; there are arches and pillars to negotiate, lots of tall people under a low ceiling, and it feels as though the excitement and enthusiasm of the diehard fans at front barely ripples its way through to the back.

There’s no denying that the expectations for tonight’s gig are high, and when Danielle declares that she’s just “SO nervous”, the audience cheers its reassurance in response. But perhaps it’s not the band that really needs the encouragement.

What’s interesting is their dynamic on stage: with Alana, the multi-instrumentalist, seemingly at the crux of the unit. Though Danielle may be the lead singer and guitarist, she’s not necessarily the front woman – that seems to be an accolade they manage to share fairly equally.

In any case, it’s bassist Este who does most of the talking, whether her siblings like it or not. Known for her brash banter, tonight’s topics include panties (she is wearing a pair) and the fact that her phone number’s on YouTube, so we should send her pictures of our bits. It is, by the way, as we checked but are yet to oblige.

Predictably, as they launch into ‘Don’t Save Me’, the room comes to life, the singing along and hands-in-the-air spirit continuing through ‘Forever’. Both are played with the same vigour as the rest of the set, but to a wholly more appreciative crowd.

Finally, as we watch them beat seven bells out of their drums for the encore of a bruising ‘Let Me Go’, we do as they tell us to, appreciative of their musicianship and hoping that their debut album will deliver.

Words: Puja Maniar

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Zoon van snooK, aka Bristol's Alec Snook (who now, just to confuse matters, lives in Barcelona), is set to release his second album 'The Bridge Between Life & Death' via Lo Recordings on June 10th.

And ahead of said album's placing on shelves physical and digital alike, Snook has put together this lovely preview minimix, pulling in cuts from across the album and presenting them in a brief but entirely coherent whole.

With previous praise from the likes of, erm, Clash… as well as Dummy, The 405 and a bunch of influential blog-type things, Snook is clearly earning a rather splendid reputation for himself. And if you're new to his sounds, this 'The Bridge…' preview might just flick the right selection of switches.

Of the record, its maker says:

"In 2009 I managed to pull off the big trip: to Iceland. I knew it would be a great opportunity to gather sounds to base an album on. I was able to collect recordings from the centre, port and outskirts of Reykjavik, and the surrounding south-western area. From national parks to canyons, hot springs to glaciers. The glitch rhythms are created from the unintentional background noise, or static, created while capturing these sounds. It's the musical equivalent of blasting meat off the bone with a high-pressure hose: nothing is wasted."

Sounds groovy. (Groovy? It sounds sort of horrific, really, but attractively so.) If you dig what he's doing, get to this corner of the 'net to find out more.

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There was a time when attending a foreign music festival was a secret kept exclusively by the holders of the knowledge. That time has passed, with the help of several hundred Top Festival lists imploring you to get the hell out of England. But the case remains that a trip across the Channel has the power to excite in a way that even a decent hot dog in a relatively mud-free field fails to do so. And so it is with the Barcelona leg of Primavera Sound 2013.

A weekend highlight thanks to the complementary hazy sounds and dozing sunset, Tame Impala’s set celebrates the band’s first time in Barcelona/gig next to a ferris wheel/in front of a full moon/with guitarist Cam; that’s four cherries popped in a single performance. ‘Elephant’ delivers the thundering sounds that festival performances are made on, while ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ offers a soothing sensation for all involved.

The festival’s indie heavyweights later follow (see: The Postal Service, Grizzly Bear, Phoenix and Animal Collective). Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste says it well when he tells the gushing crowd: “This is just the beginning for you guys… I’m envious”. Their performance boasts tracks from ‘Shields’ primarily, with the dark vocals and faster tempo on songs such as ‘Sleeping Ute’ and ‘Speak In Rounds’ creating a mood in keeping with their midnight slot.

Spread out across nine stages, Primavera Sound also dominates the impressive (read: clean) Auditori Rockdelux for the duration of Friday and Saturday. No food or drink may enter and everyone inside is silent and focused, like a hardcore music lesson at the most well behaved private school, or something. For Christopher Owens turn the stage becomes some kind of beautiful party, Owens with a vase of flowers either side, two pretty ladies on backing vocals, a band behind with one suited-up older gentleman on sax. Each and every one of them highlights the confused mind and delicate outcome of Owens' debut, ‘Lysandre’.

“If you don’t have the space, make the space and grind with me one time,” screams Solange, her crowd doing the best they can to follow the order. Dressed in a green jacket and black trousers, she and Dev Hynes deliver dance routines that would make her older sister weep with pride. Though single ‘Losing You’ achieves the biggest roar, the rest of the performance proves she has the stage presence to pull off whatever she intends.

Strolling to the Heineken stage for Blur’s 1.30am slot, fans are bemused by The Wedding Present playing (off schedule) on a balcony to the right, streaming onto the stage. Before long though Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave made their way through an hour-and-a-half set dosed in the sing-along hits that only they can offer, finished off in a true rock 'n’ roll manner with ‘Song 2’.

And then all of a sudden it's Sunday, and there's just enough time for Clash to catch Mac DeMarco playing at Parc de la Ciutadella, surrounded by swarms of sunbathers, guys selling beer and mojitos, and a Wi-Fi poll that lets fans share the experience with friends back home. Simple pleasures, eh?

Words and photo: Zoe Whitfield

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A smashing video premiere for your Friday, here.

Parisian duo Acid Washed – Andrew Claristidge and Richard D’Alpert – release their new long-player, 'House Of Melancholoy', pretty soon – look for it in late July via the Record Makers label.

Ahead of that, though, here's 'Fire N' Rain', a single with a Breakfast Club-recalling video, and a vibe that couldn't be much more sunshine if it came around our place, stripped us to our short-shorts and bathed us in factor-50.

The track, produced by Joakim, makes a man wonder: just what is this pair's definition of "melancholy", exactly?

It'll house you, with its sunglasses on throughout, Voguing its way across the dancefloors of your soul. Or something. It's the second wave of French house, and it's right here, right now.

Get more on Acid Washed on this here internet, right here.

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