IN another relatively quiet week for new releases, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, the latest album from Jason Pierce’s space-rock project Spiritualized easily stands as the ace in the pack.
Although not a patch on his masterpiece Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, it’s provides a fine exhibition of the unique sound that Pierce has forged, and is bound to go down a storm among fans.
What’s more surprising is that it arguably ranks as his most upbeat work to date, and although not especially consistent there are songs such as Hey Jane and So Long You Pretty Things that are right up there among the best that he’s ever written.
Another notable return came from Canadian hardcore merchants Cancer Bats, with the release of their riotous fourth album, Dead Set On Living.
Since forming in 2008, this Toronto quartet have become one of the genre’s most popular names, with their visceral blend of punk and thrash winning plenty of plaudits on record and even more in the live environment.
There are moments on the new album which find the band at their very best, packing a punch whilst also crucially maintaining an element of fun.
Unfortunately, it does seem to lose stream around the mid-section, so while it’ll no doubt be a hit with fans you’d have to say that they’re capable of better.
With such a sparse release calendar, now is the ideal time to look back at some recent gems which have passed under-the-radar.
The first of those comes from a band called Margot And The Nuclear So And So’s, who have just released their fifth studio album, Rot Gut, Domestic.
Although they’re far from being a household name, this Indiana collective have built a strong and consistent discography in their eight years together, with this latest addition arguably ranking among their best.
Taking influence from alt-rock legends such as Nirvana and Pixies, as well as current torch-bearers like Arcade Fire and Manchester Orchestra, their sound is an engrossing, distorted and occasionally angsty recipe which should hold plenty of appeal for the genre’s followers.
Equally impressive are North Carolina orchestral indie band Lost In The Trees, whose sophomore album A Church That Fits Our Needs has a tragic backstory.
Written by singer Ari Picker shortly after his mother took her own life, the record acts almost as a musical eulogy.
Understandably, it’s a fairly downbeat affair, but at times it’s beauty is undeniable, with cuts such as This Dead Bird Is Beautiful and An Artist’s Song particularly capable of tugging the heartstrings.
Similar in sentiment - if not sound - to stunning albums such as Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago and Eels’ Electro-Shock Blues, this is an emotional roller-coaster that fans of miserable indie should not miss out on.
Instrumental jazz-tinged hip-hop might not sound like a particularly appealing proposition, but it’s a niche that’s being worked with plenty of success by Canadian duo Badbadnotgood.
BBNG2, their second LP to date contains a handful of James Blake and Odd Future covers as well as their own originals, and while undoubtedly an acquired taste it’s a sound which can prove extremely gratifying.
Aside from the production, what’s most impressive is that no one involved in the making of the record was more than 21 years old, a stat which not only displays the talent at work but also the potential for even greater things in the future.
Fresh from the biggest show of his life at Wembley Arena, folk-punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner has once again underlined his fierce work ethic by announcing another full UK tour.
Included in the trek is a date at Newcastle’s O2 Academy on November 17, his second visit to the venue following last year’s free show following the cancelation of the Ignition Festival.
Having spent years as a cult underground figure, last year’s excellent fourth LP England Keep My Bones proved a big breakthrough for the Winchester native, and you’d struggle to find an artist less deserving of such success.
The gig is likely to sell out, so don’t wait too long before buying tickets - you won’t be disappointed.
Finally, this week saw the release of a new single from Minnesota pop-punks Motion City Soundtrack, ahead of their new album Go, due in June.
Their fifth studio effort, it will act as the follow-up to 2010’s My Dinosaur Life, one of the best records that the genre has yielded over the past few years.
The new track, True Romance, suggests that Go won’t deviate too much from that perfected sound, although it does seem to place a little more emphasis on lyrical content.
Truth be told, it doesn’t quite live up to the majority of it’s predecessor, but once it arrives the record as a whole will inevitably provide more ideal summer listening.