FOUR PLAY: Twang DJ’s Monthly Album Review

Every month we (Twang) go through the best new releases and, as ever, we’ve had a bunch of records to get lost in. To make it a bit easier for everyone involved, we do the hard work and pick out our top four albums – introducing, Four Play! In no particular order…

Hookworms – Microshift (Domino)

The third full-lengther from Leeds based quintet Hookworms is an epic, emotive, trip through the hardships they have suffered over the past few years. After a tour was cancelled, followed by the lead singers studio flooding (and subsequently quite a bit of their kit lost), it seems to be a bittersweet record shining a light on the ups and downs that have spurred on the band giving the album life. Where previous Hookworms albums have got a bit lost in noise and a sort of sonic traffic, ‘Microshift’ is a punchy offering of 80’s electronica and modern pop which still includes Hookworms typical heavier instrumental moments. From first listen, it doesn’t seem that the formula has been totally flipped on its head, maybe just slightly tilted to get the most of out of all the space in the record. The opening track ‘Negative Space’ starts off with a machine-drum pattern before taking off into full flight. Many tracks on this album appear to shift style and genre within themselves at a moment’s notice – a nod to the albums title perhaps? Carefully crafted breakdowns of airy chords and vocals create the most reflective moments on the record, always shortly followed by the kick-drum making you want to jump right out of your seat. ‘Microshift’ is definitely a record that will be played on repeat by us at Twang . Whilst getting to grips with its nuances and enjoying its more forceful moments, you then start to slowly process the lyrics and the deeper meaning behind what is being delivered. Easily one of the best albums I have listened to in 2018. – Andy

Shannon and The Clams – Onion (Easy Eye Sounds)

Man oh man, I love this album. I have always been a bit of sucker for 60s bands, good ones anyway. I think its because my Grandad used to have the oldies rock show on every Sunday so I have pretty much, over the course of my young childhood, heard everything the 60s had to offer. I also nicked all of my mums albums, 60s band and Motown, when I was a kid and listened to them on repeat – all the influences of those great bands are in Shannon and The Clams latest offering; Del Shannon, The Shirelles, The Animals, Buddy Holly etc etc. You know when you’re walking with your headphones, having a right private-party in your head and no-one knows? ‘Onion’ does that. In fact, I was in a supermarket listening to it and half expected the people in the aisles to break off into a co-ordinated clicking-fingered dance with me leading at the front. But that never happened – I just went and bought some eggs and bleach instead. It’s such an upbeat album and all of the tunes are so, so great – its not pastiche though of those old great bands. Every single track on ‘Onion’ stands on its own – listen to it if you have a penchant for those great bands of yesteryear like myself. If you don’t, still listen to it and get imagining all the great dance routines you could be doing with your new-comrades at the bus stop that you’re currently waiting in. – Mal ( Twang )

Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo (Dead Oceans Records)

The arrival of the second album from Texas-trio Khruangbin sees the band explore the instrumental-heavy world of funk, psychedelia, rhythm & blues. After a first listen of ‘Con Todo El Mundo’ its rather easy to find yourself drifting away to a personal paradise, forgetting about the overcast commute that you are most likely enduring (in the UK at least). The album merges sounds from every continent with ease making it almost unfair to try and categorise the band into a single genre, so it’s anybody’s guess which section their records must sit in at a record store. For anybody that was a fan of Khrurangbin’s first album, this follow-up feels like a perfect extension of their unique sound. Where ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ was rooted in Thai funk, the latest offering continues to tour the globe and cherry picking sounds on its way. Personal highlights from the album include the funky second half of ‘Lady & Man’ featuring some of the albums rare vocal moments and also the disco-styled ‘Evan Finds The Third Room’. For anyone looking for that bit extra, Khurangbin have created an AirKhruang website where a user can input their flight destination details and have a Spotify playlist curated to soundtrack their journey. The playlist is a further extension of their all-encompassing effort to musically bring a world together, and engage listeners to music that they would consider out of their usual realm. – Andy ( Twang )

The Lovely Eggs – This is Eggland (Egg Records)

When done right, women fronting punk songs always take on an extra dimension for me. Generally punk is an angry and frustrated art format and a chance to vent at social ills or relationships of romantic, political or a social nature doomed to failure. As the history of the genre dictates, its most-often blokes in the main that fill that particular space because – as we all know – us blokes love to moan about everything. However, two of my favourite punk bands of the last 20 years have been fronted by women – The Distillers and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. I can’t help but think of Brody Dalle and Karen O when I listen to ‘This Is Eggland’. I’m not being lazy and comparing The Lovely Eggs‘ sound to them as due to being female-fronted (although the three do bare some hall-marks), my opinion is mostly due to the bands clearly sharing the same drive, intensity, power & insightfully clever lyrics.  ‘This is Eggland’ is an absolutely thundering album, ripping through each track with short run-times as a great punk album should. My mate Bradders has been into them for a long time and says the album could be a little over-produced compared to the others but that’s fine for new-comers like myself. This album has proved the perfect starting point to go and get into their back catalogue and I would urge you to too if you haven’t already. – Mal ( Twang )