Seven essential releases rounded up...

January is traditionally a slow month in music, a time to take stock, and to make plans.

2019, though, had other intentions - it's been stacked with fantastic releases, some of whom (bold prediction alert...) will probably rank far up in our inevitable End Of Year poll.

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Steve Gunn - The Unseen In Between // REVIEW

"Like the man himself, ‘The Unseen In Between’ is full of complex twists, kinks and contradictions that offer more answers, well, not answers, but suggestions with each listen. I’m expecting his follow up to be released next month, but in the meantime just bask in ‘The Unseen in Between’ enigmatic glory."

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James Blake - Assume Form // REVIEW

"In a somewhat unexpected move James Blake has become the go-to man among the US hip-hop glitterati seeking to add a little indie gravitas to their output. Arguably, he’s at his best when bouncing off others, and the guest spots provide colour and counterpoints without overstaying their welcome. ‘Tell Them’ (featuring Moses Sumney and Metro Boomin) is an early highlight, skipping along on a light trap beat."

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Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow // REVIEW

"‘Remind Me Tomorrow’ is full of visually evocative snippets like this (‘Malibu’s “We held hands as we passed the truck / Just a couple of dudes who don’t give a fuck” is particularly memorable), demonstrating Van Etten’s ability to embrace change as she leaves the beaten track, veering away from confessional songwriting to explore more narrative paths."

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The Twilight Sad - It Won/t Be Like This All The Time // REVIEW

"In harnessing the physical energy of their sound, The Twilight Sad seem to have found fresh nuance in their work; James Graham’s lyrics feel compelled, inspired, while the music itself continually leans towards the daring, the unexpected, and the sublime. In discarding expectations The Twilight Sad have delivered something very special indeed."

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Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center // REVIEW

"Given the talent involved, it’s no stretch to imagine that this is a solid listen, but its depth, brave sonic choices and chemistry make for a near perfect record. Rather than sticking purely with the sad acoustic vibes, the album effortlessly blends country, electro elements and alt-rock with ease. It’s as if the LP was simultaneously recorded in 2018, 2007, and 1993, a tonal greatest hits of hard-hitting emotion and fist-pumping fun."

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Swindle - No More Normal // REVIEW

"There is so much right about this album that it’s hard to criticise: Swindle’s vision to blend different worlds of underground music, together with his choice of features - as well as intriguing changes in pace - are what makes this album great."

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Steve Mason - About The Light // REVIEW

"The most immediate thing about ‘About the Light’ is that all the songs have massive choruses - nothing new considering Mason’s back catalogue - but it’s the level of catchiness that’s the surprising, and surpassing, thing. Standout track ‘No Clue’ is classic Mason with swirling guitars and massive hooks. There is a playful bounce to it, meaning this should go off when played live. ‘About The Light’ separates Mason from that current glut of nostalgia acts trying to cash in on their past. Mason has always followed his own path, and we’re better for it."

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