The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

Category New Album Releases

REVIEW: Alabama Shakes – ‘Sound & Color’ (Rough Trade)

by Ed Biggs With their 2012 debut Boys & Girls, Alabama Shakes pushed their way to the front of the most recent retro-rock revival, alongside the likes of The Black Keys. Using authentic American soul and rock influences, from Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding and recordings from the Muscle Shoals studio (located in the state which gives them their name), it was a fun, stripped-down experience. At the time, some pointed

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REVIEW: Villagers – ‘Darling Arithmetic’ (Domino)

by Matthew Langham Literate Irish folksters Villagers return with their third album, their first since 2013’s Mercury nominated {Awayland}. Primarily crafted near Dublin, this is Conor O’Brien’s most intimate and revealing record to date, and probably his most accessible. Although it deals with heartache, its all-encompassing sense of melancholia is strangely uplifting and cathartic, achieved through O’Brien’s ability to pull off some tremendous literary references. This is much more of

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REVIEW: Wire – ‘Wire’ (Pinkflag)

by Matthew Langham It is rare for a band with a forty year history to sound contemporary, but with a back catalogue of over a dozen records, Wire’s self-titled album fits in nicely with their forward-thinking oeuvre. Two years on from Change Becomes Us, they still maintain their edge with an intriguing experimentation in motorik-driven electronica. The quartet have taken the post-punk riffs and engrained them into sophisticated guitar pop,

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REVIEW: White Shadows – ‘Secret Of Life’ (Wicked Nature)

by Ed Biggs White Shadows is a collaboration project between The Vines’ Craig Nicholls and Empire Of The Sun’s Nick and Sam Littlemore. Those with long musical memories will recall The Vines’ soul-destroying mediocrity in the pursuit of three-chord glory, writing songs pitched at sheltered suburban teens whose sentiments were as shallow as an O.C. plotline. But Nicholls has pitched Secret Of Life as an entirely studio-based project, with no

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REVIEW: The Slow Readers Club – ‘Cavalcade’ (Extenso)

by Ed Biggs Manchester four-piece The Slow Readers Club are now on their second album, looking to break out and reach an audience outside of the city that loves them so much. Cavalcade is much more consistently down-beat fare than their 2011 debut. Judging by his lyrics, lead singer Aaron Starkie seems to be in a permanent state of Proustian lamentation for the lost days of carefree early adulthood. ‘Forever

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REVIEW: Young Fathers – ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ (Big Dada)

by Ed Biggs Celebrated Edinburgh trio Young Fathers have wasted no time following up their Mercury Music Prize-winning album Dead. That album was a frequently disorientating assault on the senses, stuffed so full of competing elements that it demanding revisiting simply to take everything in. But, crucially, it had heart, something the likes of Flying Lotus or Everything Everything are sometimes accused of not having in their all-out rush to

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REVIEW: East India Youth – ‘Culture Of Volume’ (XL)

by Ed Biggs Last year, William Doyle aka East India Youth was plucked from the burgeoning and anonymous mass of Britain’s bedroom music makers and into the limelight when his debut album Total Strife Forever was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. It was a record praised for its evocative qualities, of urban loneliness and atomisation, much like The xx’s debut which also gave the illusion of space through its

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REVIEW: The Mountain Goats – ‘Beat The Champ’ (Merge)

by Ed Biggs Having been a proper ‘group’ for over a decade and a nom de plume for singer-songwriter John Darnielle for over two, The Mountain Goats are now on their fifteenth album. It’s a project that has long enjoyed a dedicated fanbase but has never really bothered the mainstream, and that’s unlikely to change with Beat The Champ. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind. For this album, Darnielle

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REVIEW: Waxahatchee – ‘Ivy Tripp’ (Wichita / Merge)

by Ed Biggs Since her 2012 debut American Weekend, Alabama-born New Yorker Katie Crutchfield has quietly become one of the most compelling solo performers of the new decade. The home-made acoustic qualities of that debut were electrified on the following year’s excellent Cerulean Salt, but until now Waxahatchee material has always been able to be performed with minimal help from others. Ivy Tripp is, by contrast, a lot less single-minded

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REVIEW: Drenge – ‘Undertow’ (Infectious)

by Ed Biggs Drenge’s self-titled 2013 debut absolutely dripped with aggression and ennui. The Loveless brothers’ directed their boredom at their formative teenage years spent stuck in grey rural Derbyshire. But as impressive as that racket was, it risked pegging them as a one trick pony, as many similar bands in the recent past who have relied so much on stripped-down volume have struggled to project in other directions and on other

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