THREE years in the making, the fifth album from New York City’s Psychic Ills is a slow-burn collection of slackerish guitar music. The music is so slow and spaced out it verges on the stately. Opener Back To You adds some country into the mix, while Another Change echoes the best of Primal Scream’s most druggy, soulful work. The band is joined by a plethora of musical acquaintances, including Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval who lends her beautiful voice to Mixed-up Mind. Coca-Cola Blues has some beautiful woozy harmonica playing, with frontman Tres Warren intoning: “I don’t drink Coca-Cola anymore” because “it was keeping me up until four.” Encompassing everything is a hippyish spirituality, including life philosophy quotes from Sun Ra and Dion in the album’s inlay notes. File next to similarly unhurried, classy rock artists like Kurt Vile, Jonathan Wilson and Beachwood Sparks.
Gold Panda Good Luck And Do Your Best (City Slang) 4/5
THIS third album from electronic music producer, composer and performer Derwin — aka Gold Panda — was inspired by two trips to Japan. While he was there, a taxi driver uttered the album title to him as he stepped out of a cab. Recorded in his hometown of Chelmsford and produced and mixed in Norwich, Good Luck and Do Your Best is a positive and immersive set of laid-back instrumental electronica, overlaid with hip-hop beats and low-key house tempos. Opener Metal Bird sets the scene, with sun-drenched vibes bringing to mind The Avalanches. Chiba Nights is an upbeat and nostalgic look back to the early ’90s, complete with house-piano breaks, while In My Car nods to the music’s genesis by including some beautiful koto playing. Everything is kept on an intimate scale, with a warm glow settling over the whole album. A perfect release for summer days ahead.
Darren Hayman Thankful Villages Volume 1 (Rivertones) 4/5
SINCE going solo, ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman has been on a fascinating musical journey, with concept albums about lidos, 17th-century witch trials and William Morris. Thankful Villages continues his tour of British history, the title a reference to those places in Britain where every soldier returned alive from WWI. Essentially 18 folk field recordings, the record consists of instrumental interludes captured in graveyards and on church organs, spoken-word pieces from locals and songs inspired by visits to these communities. Hayman’s concern is broader than the “war to end all wars,” as he takes in village life across the centuries. St Michael, South Elmham has “Dolly” remembering her father and Culpho includes refreshing birdsong backing the singer-songwriter’s folky musings. A very special album indeed and Hayman’s plan to visit more “thankful” villages for volumes 2 and 3 is something to look forward to.