The Cool Kids, The Bake Sale
You would be forgiven for thinking a band called the Cool Kids might wield guitars in anger. In fact, the 'kids' in question are a tag team from Chicago, the home of sentient hip hop. In their early 20s, Chuck English and Mikey Rocks spit rhymes that hark back to a time when linguistic dexterity and a sense of mischief were foremost in hip hop. 'The new black version of the Beastie Boys' rap about TV dinners, Star Wars and whether eating cereal is 'gangsta' or not. Their style might be classic, but Cool Kids' beats are often stark and up to the minute, the fat bass adding a frisson of danger. Refreshing, to say the least. Kitty Empire
Black Affair, Pleasure Pressure Point
Earlier this year, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals went rooting around the Eighties for inspiration and returned with the album Neon Neon, a paean to the sleek electro-pop of the era. Now Steve Mason, formerly of the Beta Band, has undertaken a similar journey, with similarly pleasing results. 'Sweet' revisits Bambaataa-era hip hop; 'Pills' gets nostalgic for the early days of rave. Fuzzy bass lines, shimmering synths and ecstatic bleeps abound and tracks such as the brilliant 'It Goes Like This' conjure up dark images of hedonism and excess. A commendable solo venture.
Late of the Pier, Fantasy Black Channel
Nottingham four-piece Late of the Pier might have been touted as the new Klaxons in some corners of the press, but their debut album reveals they're more than just a bunch of new-rave scenesters. Produced by DJ Erol Alkan, it's a riot of art-punk guitars, cosmic synths, crunchy electro beats, and daft vocals that defies easy classification. 'Focker' is the albums pinnacle, a powerhouse techno-metal number that sounds like the mutant offspring of Daft Punk and Muse, though every track fizzes with its own distinct energy, from Gary Numan-esque stomper 'Space and the Woods' to demented prog-funk closer 'Bathroom Gurgle'.
Unkle, End Titles: Stories for Film
(Surrender All) 9.99
James Lavelle's open-ended post-hip hop collective aren't really an albums band any more. Rather, End Titles collects Unkle's prolific output of incidental music for films (including a documentary about director Abel Ferrara) and their recent commercial commissions (a BMW ad, TV trailers) in one place. The guest list is perhaps more exciting than the music itself: Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, James Petralli from White Denim and Black Mountain are some of Lavelle's rockular foils.
But despite such input, End Titles still only amounts to 22 snippets of vague unease.
Kasai Allstars, In the 7th Moon
The third installment of Crammed Records Congotronics series maintains the sonic assault, its music created on a madcap tumble of instruments fuzztone thumb pianos, xylophones, drums, electric guitars and homemade amplifiers. Its intricate, mesmerising rhythms and chants have their roots in rural tradition, but thanks to the prohibitions of evangelical churches in Congo villages, you're apparently more likely to hear such pagan music in Kinshasa, where it's shot through with licks of flowing, soukous-style electric guitar. Like the Allstars wild show, its trance states are sometimes strong meat, but avant-garde noiseniks will love it.