The long-awaited follow up to 2012's rather awesome The Future Is Now EP, and Toe's first full album in six years, Hear You finds the instrumental Japanese post-rock outfit expanding their sound and vision. Vocals on almost half of the tracks add a new flavour to the quartet's wondrous jazz-hop noodlings, but it's hardly what you would call a new direction. Thankfully, the fluidity of their song structures hasn't been dropped for a more formulaic or poppier sound, the vocal content only another subtle instrument in their intricate and vivid soundscapes.
Guitarists Yamazaki Hirokazu and Mino Takaaki continue to weave their complex math-rock melodies around the tight funk of bassist Yamane Satoshi and the frenzied beats of drummer Kashikura Takashi, but the songs, now with a lyrical focus, ebb and flow with a greater sense of urgency, making this the most accessible of any Toe album to date. It's difficult to argue that there's anything greater than the tracks on their For Long Tomorrow album, but with a refusal to stand still, Hear You demonstrates just why Toe are one of indie's most dynamic and essential bands.
Toe Hear You (White Noise Records)
Embracing the wry charm of slackerdom with its shambolic sunshine pop and self-deprecating title, Another One is supposedly a stopgap mini LP (although it contains eight tracks, which could hardly be construed as slack), before the amiable Canadian singer-songwriter Mac Demarco returns with a full-length follow up to last year's widely acclaimed Salad Days. Recorded in just over a week, alone in his coastal home (he gives out the address and invites you over for coffee at the end of the album), Another One's breezy low-key ballads feel instantly warm and comfortable, like slipping on a pair of old scruffy jeans that are threadbare silky in all the right places.
It's less zany than his previous albums. I've Been Waiting For Her has a feel-good summer beach vibe and stands out as upbeat compared to the other poignant musings on hope and heartbreak. Demarco claims this collection of mellow love songs to be "probably the most personal album I've written"; it also proves to be one of his best.
Mac DeMarco Another One (Captured Tracks)
It's been eight years since British rockers The Maccabees released their solid debut Colour It In, and colourful it was too, but it really didn't contain anything to suggest the five boys from South London would keep their heads high above the indie mire. But The Maccabees have always striven to stay a half step ahead of the game. Opening their fourth album Marks to Prove It, the furious and spiky title track immediately recalls the soaring melodies and insanely catchy choruses of 2012's Given to the Wild, as blazing guitars and thunderous drums bristle around frontman Orlando Weeks' controlled vocals. But just as quickly the energy shifts down a gear with the mellower Kamakura.
As the band explained, "One of the strengths of the record is that if you listen to the first song and listen to the last song, they don't feel like they're the same band." Ribbon Road certainly wouldn't sound too out of place on Morrissey's recent long player.
The Maccabees Marks to Prove It (Fiction Records)
The worldly Lovers Know is the third album from the brooding singer/pianist Laura Burhenn, who is the heart of the indie foursome The Mynabirds. The soulful songstress is no doubt influenced by Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks, and also possesses a bit of feisty Cat Power, but with her chamber-pop torch songs taking a dense electro leaning, the multi-instrumentalist will now surely be talked about in the same breath as the fantastic Lana Del Rey. Blessed with a rich smoky voice, Burhenn is always going to be the star of the show but her delivery is admirably restrained, complementing the intricate shoegazing melodies when she could just so easily drown them, as on the sparse Omaha and the album's understated standout track Velveteen.
Shake Your Head Yes blends a minimalist laptop beat with a wave of '80s synth but the tempo stays mainly low throughout the 12 tracks, with only lead single Semantics and the poppy Wildfire making a bid for commercial airplay.
The Mynabirds Lovers Know (Saddle Creek)