The Guardian Indie

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  1. The singer-songwriter’s remarkable fifth offering paired an arch humour with an underlying maelstrom of drama, loneliness and psychosexual dysfunction

    In 1892, Charlotte Perkins Gilman published the seminal feminist short story The Yellow Wallpaper, the semiautobiographical account of a woman confined to a strange, isolated house who becomes increasingly obsessed with her room’s “repellent, almost revolting” wallpaper, retreating deeper and deeper into psychosis.

    The same sense of unease and gradual detachment from reality runs through Be the Cowboy, the remarkable fifth album by the Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki. The first song, Geyser, opens with an organ note: Mitski’s spectral vocals appear, intoning the generic romantic sentiment: “You’re my number one / You’re the one I want.” But as soon as “want” is sung, the music glitches, signalling that all is not well; like the geyser of the song’s title, the music swells, deep-set emotions rising forcefully to the surface. “Somebody kiss me, I’m going crazy / I’m walking round the house naked / Silver in the night,” she sings later.

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  2. Rock Action

    Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffat isn’t the most obvious candidate to release a Christmas album. He introduces their gigs as being “unsuitable for children”. His largely misanthropic narratives feature tales of brawling, fighting and Scenes of a Sexual Nature. This year’s Here Lies the Body, which paired Moffat and fellow Glaswegian Scottish album of the year winner Hubbert – was a selection of “carnal lullabies”.

    And yet, after having so much fun recording A Ghost Story For Christmas as a single, they decided to do a full album. It taps into the reality of Christmas, where the flipside of the fireside glow can be lonely desolation.

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  3. The band have rocked up to York Art Gallery to mount an exhibition that contrasts paintings they admire with sound art and songs. They explain how it came about

    ‘Playing guitar in front of 10,000 people is something I stopped being nervous about a long time ago,” says Simon Rix, the bassist in long-running Leeds indie band Kaiser Chiefs. “But this is different.”

    He’s talking about the band’s first ever art show, which opens this week at York Art Gallery. He curated the exhibition alongside the band’s drummer Vijay Mistry, and the pair are feeling the pressure.

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  4. The best album of the Duluth band’s career sounds familiarly glacial and hymn-like – but recorded all wrong. It’s the sound of the world collapsing

    This year was filled with music that attempted to reflect the times. So much so that it felt faintly exhausting: it was hard to avoid the sense that artists felt impelled to comment on The Age We Live In whether or not they had anything interesting or original to say about it. But no other woke pop or explicit evisceration of Trump’s America sums up how 2018 frequently felt quite as well as Low’s Double Negative, an album that says very little directly about the state of things.

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  5. This collection of woozy retro-futurist miniatures flew the flag for all album-kind in its cogent unity of time, place and ideas

    A perplexing Alex Turner solo turn, or one of the best records in Arctic Monkeys’ glittering catalogue? The debate about Tranquility Base Hotel& Casino raged on through most of 2018. When the Monkeys came to tour their sixth record, they did not recreate their entire setlist in the spirit of their new album’s dystopian lounge act, but instead dropped these woozy retro-futurist miniatures in carefully.

    Perhaps that is as it should be. Tranquility Base is not for those Monkeys fans who joined on the strength of the foursome’s latter-day guitar density, picked up from hanging out with Queens of the Stone Age a couple of albums ago. It is not for those fans who thrilled to the sound of contemporary US R&B played by clever, horny Yorkshiremen on guitars: the vibe of Arctic Monkeys’ last, triumphant album, AM. And it was a leap for those who recall an impossibly distant time when the four sounded like a Sheffield take on the Libertines.

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