The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. (Domino)

    As Blood Orange, New York-based artist Dev Hynes has released four deeply impressive albums of glossy, genre-fluid sounds. Angel’s Pulse is something a little different – described by London-born Hynes as a mixtape, the distinction comes in this being a release of between-projects material: an epilogue to last year’s exquisite Negro Swan. Normally, Hynes keeps these post-album sketches private, sharing with friends, sometimes even slipping a mixtape to a stranger on the street. For the first time he is sharing such a release with the wider world. Hynes’s albums sound like mixtapes anyway, the way his tracks delicately meld into one another being a stylistic constant. But everything here feels more muted, with motifs that nod quietly to its predecessor – Tuesday Feeling (Choose to Stay), for example, seems to channel the introductory melody of Runnin’. It’s immersive, but bar a couple of songs and features (Southern rap don Project Pat and enigmatic MC BennY RevivaL are both standouts) it lacks the urgency or vitality of its two predecessors. Instead, this is a lounge-y mixtape that drifts comfortably within Hynes’s beautiful sonic realm.

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  2. Somerset House, London
    Initially undercut by weedy sound, the Mancunian trio become muscular and euphoric in this greatest hits set

    ‘We really shouldn’t have left it so long, should we?” asks Jimi Goodwin, halfway through what is only Doves’ eighth show in almost a decade. The timing of the end of their hiatus – a nine-year silence during which Goodwin released his first solo album, and fraternal guitarist Jez and drummer Andy Williams started their own band, Black Rivers – could almost be opportunistic. After all, the group were quickly recognised as the bards of the comedown when they surfaced at the start of the century – the former members of house pop act and Haçienda regulars Sub Sub, now playing post-party lullabies and cinematic, ruminative soundtracks to emotionally fragile morning-afters. Given that the nation – the world, even – has been on a colossal bummer for at least a couple of years, if ever there was a time for Doves’ balmy, restorative pop to heal our nerves, it’s now.

    But while there’s a new album in the works, reports say, we hear none of it tonight; instead, we’re treated to a greatest-hits set revisiting all four Doves albums, a trip that’s unabashedly nostalgic, revelling in shared histories between artists and audience. They open with Firesuite, the chugging, gently spacey instrumental that opened their debut album, Lost Souls, and it plays out tonight like the krautrock equivalent of a warm cup of tea, never threatening to go truly cosmic – but then that’s never been Doves’ realm: they have always preferred to explore interior, emotional space.

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  3. (Fiction)

    While Palace’s 2016 debut, So Long Forever, was an accomplished enough slice of grown-up indie, it did feel a little half-hearted in places. Although the songs concerned themselves with bereavement, the marital breakup of frontman Leo Wyndham’s parents and similarly weighty topics, at times there was a detachment to his delivery that seemed at odds with the subject matter. Loss is once again a recurrent theme on the London-based group’s’s follow-up – not least on the opening title track (“She’s watching from heaven/ She’s always beside you”) and epic closer Heaven Up There – but pleasingly, Wyndham sings with far greater confidence and conviction this time.

    With the band now a three-piece, following the departure of bassist Will Dorey, there’s an organic warmth to the arrangements on Life After, Rupert Turner’s guitar and Matt Hodges’ drums foregrounding Wyndham without ever stealing the spotlight, even on the more strident Running Wild (don’t be fooled by the title: it doesn’t represent a departure into freewheeling debauched rock-piggery). If there is a criticism it’s that, Martyr and Running Wild aside, there’s too little that really grabs the attention. Still, not many bands do better emotionally literate, melancholic indie at the moment.

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  4. The London-based post-punk quartet step out of Joy Division’s shadow with raw, thrilling affairs of the heart

    “Our songs are always about relationships and feelings about people,” says Laura Guerrero Lora, frontwoman of post-punk quartet Ghum. “Especially the worst ones.” Therapy is always close at hand when it comes to Ghum, whose lyrics dissect love with vicious precision.

    The band’s best songs are propelled by heart-racing basslines and thrilling guitars; punky, but with the stately grace of goth-pop. Guerrero Lora has the ability to sing in every register from whisper to scream, like early PJ Harvey – sometimes anguished, always raw. Often, Ghum’s tracks disintegrate instead of ending, as if the band’s poise were just a mask.

    Ghum’s EP The Coldest Fireis out now on Everything Sucks Music. They play the Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham on 14 July, and tour until 20 July

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  5. Introducing the buzzy Liverpool-based group who turned their house into a trampoline and sample Jai Paul

    Jake Brettell and Liam Nolan had known each other for three days when they began work on their debut album. It was freshers’ week, and they had proggy 70s Canadian pop band Klaatu on the record player, when they decided to start rapping over the top. The end result was Dr Marvelo & His Best Friend Corkie, Chinatown Slalom’s first song. Is “screwball prog-rap made by two first-year music tech students” a good elevator pitch? Perhaps not. But the shaggy, funny, tricksy songs featured on their debut long-player Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? are a rare example of an indie band in 2019 who don’t seem in thrall to the genre’s recent history.

    Dr Marvelo, for example, is a combination of Avalanches sample clatter, Beta Band psych lope and extemporised giggle-rap couplets such as: “Gotta book on taekwondo yo / We kick your dad in slo mo”. “We only showed [the song to] about three people,” says Liam, the singer (imagine if Robbie Williams joined Kasabian), who is propped up on a couch alongside his three bandmates in the handsome townhouse they share in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter.

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