Author: Pete Bate

Album | Gruff Rhys – Seeking New Gods

Inspired by the ancient Mount Paektu, Gruff Rhys’ latest solo album finds him exploring fertile territory while remaining both familiar and fresh. The Super Furries’ frontman has ploughed a rich and varied seam under his own steam for 15 years. Seeking…

Album | Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension

After years of sonic adventure and leftfield swerves, Sufjan Stevens’ 2015 career highpoint Carrie & Lowell saw the restless songwriter drop anchor in the wake of his mother’s death. It’s barely-there arrangements cradled Stevens’ bleak grief with remarkably life-affirming results. I’m…

Album | Woods – Strange To Explain

Brooklyn’s Woods share heritage with the likes of Kevin Morby (their former bassist), Real Estate and Kurt Vile. But 11 albums into their career, Woods’ pastel psych-pop/folk remains more under the radar (in the UK at least) than their contemporaries.…

Album | BC Camplight – Shortly After Takeoff

“I’ve had my indicator on since leaving Crewe/That explains the gestures in my rear-view,” Brian Christinzio sighs over the doo-wop pop of ‘Born To Cruise’.  It’s one of many superbly pithy couplets on his fifth BC Camplight album, Shortly After Takeoff,…

Album | Josh Rouse – The Holiday Sounds Of Josh Rouse

If, like me, you crave mince pies as soon as summer finishes, the gift of a Christmas album at the start of November is balm to the autumn soul. The fact it’s as perky and filler-free as Josh Rouse’s holiday debut is…

Album | Bon Iver – i,i

“I like you, I like you,” intones Justin Vernon on ‘iMI’, the opening salvo of his group’s fourth album. In the three years since the shadowy 22, A Million, Bon Iver’s convener has achieved a hard-earned contentment  – even if…

Album | Bill Callahan – Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest

“It sure feels good to be singing again,” Bill Callahan’s earthy baritone grins on ‘Writing’, one of the countless gems on his first studio album since 2013’s Dream River. In the intervening period, the 53-year-old has been preoccupied with marriage, fatherhood…

Album | The Leisure Society – Arrivals & Departures

Ten years since Nick Hemming, Christian Hardy and co arrived with their award-nominated debut album The Sleeper, their fifth offering represents a rebuilding of sorts. The ending of songwriter Hemming’s relationship with Leisure Society flautist Helen Whitaker, and the folding…

Album | Damien Jurado – In The Shape Of A Storm

It must be a big deal for songwriters – often solitary by nature – to land on a partner, or muse, who can push them to new peaks. Damien Jurado’s collaboration with Richard Swift began to bear fruit over a…

Album | Lambchop – This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)

Kurt Wagner and his ever-shifting Nashville collective left alt.country purists on the hard shoulder years ago. Always influenced by Curtis Mayfield and other soul legends, Wagner and co have morphed into a brand new proposition in recent times – heralded…