Cambridge Audio’s New Music Picks – March 2018

Here’s all the new music that we’ve been obsessing over this month at Cambridge Audio.

Well… March has been a busy month for us at CA HQ. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve finally announced our Edge hi-fi series with the Edge A, NQ and W. But fear not, we’ve still had plenty of time to uncover amazing new music. Here are our favourites from March 2018:

Albums

Gengahr - Where Wildness Grows

It strikes that Where Wildness Grows is a somewhat appropriate title for Gengahr’s second full-length outing. From the intricate, colourful guitar of opening track, "Before Sunrise", to the airy, expansive production of "Whole Again", the record is beautifully organic and sprawling.

It’s been three years since Gengahr released their first record, the critically acclaimed A Dream Outside, and they quickly found themselves the new indie darlings. During those three years, the psychedelic indie-rock outfit from North London have been honing their craft, and the new release still features much of what made their debut so infectious, but this time with more cohesion and precision, proving the four-piece will be around for years to come. 

Jonathan Wilson - Rare Birds

Jonathan Wilson doesn’t rush through Rare Birds. From opening track, "Trafalgar Square", the album feels patient and deliberate: the grungy guitar riff slowly builds to a Tame Impala-esque, psych-rock thud, Wilson eschews expected song structures, letting verses run for a bar or two longer than you anticipate, and the whole thing clocks in at a little over 6 minutes.  

Lyrically, the album is a thoughtful rumination on a failed relationship— a fitting accompaniment to the patient and pointed production. Highlights come when Wilson is most inward and honest: "Loving You" is a particular highlight as are "Living With Myself" and "49 Hairflips", which feature Lana Del Ray and Father John Misty respectively. 

Wilson claims inspiration from British music in the 80’s, specifically citing artists like Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush as influences. On listening, however, there’s much more going on, like on "Hi Ho the Righteous", which mixes moments of country with the synth-pop styling. 

As a whole, Rare Birds is a sprawling and triumphant yet wonderfully grounded and introspective. 

Mount Eerie - Now Only

After Mount Eerie released A Crow Looked at Me, his soul-crushing reflection of mourning his wife's death, he probably felt perplexed to bring them to the live stage. In efforts to avoid soaking venue floors with too many tears, Phil Elverum pieced together the songs found on Now Only. These songs are still threaded with strains of Genevieve and sad, but Elverum expands the scope of his lyrical compositions with a wider lens on his everyday life and injects a sense of humor here-and-there. He also eliminates the "non-music" tag from his poems and adds more instruments to the mix, including numbing guitar distortion, percussion, glowing piano, and full-band noise jams.

Yo La Tengo - There's a Riot Going On

There's no ruckus to be found on Yo La Tengo's There's a Riot Going On. Instead, it's a cool meditation that forces its listeners to slow down. The band composes their most recent set of songs with a sense of minimalism and openness, as opposed to the rock direction that has powered their last few albums. When they sing, vocalists Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley dissect streams of thought that cross their minds, whether they're staring at an open fire or unpacking their desires to connect with someone they long for. Contemplative instrumental tracks are sprinkled throughout the album appropriately to encourage you to linger in those messages or clear your mind. 

Maybe most of the trouble in our world today is from doing or saying too much. In response, Yo La Tengo prompts you to step back before making your next move. 

Soccer Mommy - Clean

If you like sad jams, Soccer Mommy is your girl. On her major label debut, Clean, Sophie Allison spills her guts about turmoil surfaced in her self-confidence and romantic relationships. She laments the lack of commitment in her partners, what she's missing from "more desirable" girls, and longing to be someone's dream girl. But, Allison sings as if she's embraced these pitfalls­ into her human identity. Much like (Sandy) Alex G, she constructs adventurous guitar riffs and vocal melodies and makes it sound simple and effortless, which also helps digest her lyrical sorrow.

Allison's emotions feel extra potent from the album's excellent production value, which allows her songs to explode with glowing energy and complicates its simplicity with unexpected left turns. The latter is best displayed in the album's first two songs, "Still Clean" and "Cool", whose respective outros are built with lo-fi tape hum and a chunky guitar riff cyclically auto-tuned. Clean inspires you to crave your blue thoughts over and over again. 

Superorganism – Superorganism

The anticipated debut from the UK collective is a smorgasbord of organised chaos, but we’d say it’s in a good way. With elements of indie pop and dance rooted under an abundance of cartoony sound samples, it’s a vibrant and daring first outing but one that sticks with you because of its interesting nature. Lyrically, there isn’t too much to write home about, but the wacky melodies and sticky synth noises are certainly interesting enough for a full listen, especially the tracks "It’s All Good", "Something For Your M.I.N.D", and lead single "Everyone Wants to be Famous". A great listen for those even slightly intrigued.

Tracks

Vince Staples - "Get the F*** Off My D***"

Earlier this month, Vince Staples launched a parody GoFundMe campaign with a tagline of "let me do what I want, when I want, or fund my lifestyle." The stunt was met with mixed reactions, some finding it humorous and others feeling offended. That judgment inspired one of the strongest songs in Vince Staples' catalog, "Get the F*** Off My D***". His rhymes flow like a confident autobiography, which cover his unique expensive tastes (he prefers home decor over chains and fancy rides), troubled upbringing in Romana Park, CA, and feelings about his public persona, where his interview quotes gain more traction than his music. The core of the beat is built with beautiful piano and string samples while its chunky bass keeps it thumping, like what is heard of his excellent 2017 album, Big Fish Theory. 

"Get the F*** Off My D***" is a wake-up call to anyone who touches Staples' music-- he seeks to chase the avant-garde and think forward. Anyone who thinks otherwise is lost in a predictable cycle. 

So that's our list, but what have you been listening to over the last month? Make sure you let us know in the comments section.

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