Barclaycard Mercury Prize Recommends brings you some of the week's most interesting online music from around the world...


More new music arrives via Recommends this week, with new tracks from Laura Marling and Frank Ocean featured alongside videos by Modest Mouse, Ibeyi and The Four Owls. There are albums streaming from Caribou Vibration Ensemble and Natalie Prass, whilst elsewhere there's news on shows from British Sea Power and The Impossible Gentlemen.

Tracks: Laura Marling, Landshapes, Aiden Moffat & Bill Wells, Frank Ocean


Videos: Modest Mouse, Ibeyi, The Staves, The Four Owls, Just Jam


Albums: Caribou Vibration Ensemble, Björk, Natalie Prass, Hotflush Recordings


Live: British Sea Power, Clinic, The Impossible Gentlemen


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    Independent Venue Week

    As you’ll read later in Recommends, this month sees the return of Independent Venue Week, an inspired initiative that shines a light on those local venues that play such an important role in supporting and developing grassroots music. The week boasts a whole host of highlights, but maybe one of the most unusual events will be a series of free-to-attend drop-in sessions at The Water Rats in Kings Cross, hosted by Radiohead's Ed O’Brien.

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    Damon Albarn's New Opera

    Damon Albarn has revealed his latest opera will premier at Manchester International Festival, in keeping with both his previous operatic works Monkey: The Journey West and Doctor Dee. In what could be one of his most ambitious projects to date the Pop polymath has re-imagined Alice In Wonderland alongside director Moira Buffini. Entitled, the opera will open in Manchester this July then visit London's National Theatre.

  • Laura Marling

    False Hope

    Virgin EMI

    For pending new album Short Film, Laura Marling settled down in one place to write and record - the first time the singer had been able to do so in almost eight years. This stability and the reflection it enabled have definitely had an effect on her songwriting, and it certainly shone through on the album’s title track that first surfaced at the end of last year. It’s also apparent on the beguiling False Hope, the deeply reflective lyrics accompanied by a distant cello and upbeat guitars that belie the plaintive pulse at the heart of the track.

  • Landshapes


    Bella Union

    Landshapes’ continued creative evolution picks up pace as the young band unveil the first cut from a forthcoming new set on Bella Union. A boiled down version of a twenty minute studio jam, Moongee also provided a starting point for recording the album and arrives alongside news of a residency the band will host at the Total Refreshment Centre in North London this February. The calibre of guests hints towards the support Landshapes are garnering, with Tizrah and The Invisible joining over the course of three nights.

  • Bill Wells & Aiden Moffat

    This Dark Desire

    Chemikal Records

    Two of Falkirk’s finest reconvene for another album, their first since 2011’s celebrated Everything’s Getting Older. The formula remains largely the same the second time around, with Aiden Moffat providing the cynical soliloquies and multi-instrumentalist Bill Wells setting the former Arab Strap man’s musings to typically lush, Jazz hued arrangements. This Dark Desire offers the first tantilising taste of The Most Important Place In The World, a set that Moffat has described as “A song for the city and the secrets she hides”

  • Frank Ocean

    (At Your Best) You Are Love

    Whilst the world is still waiting patiently for a follow up to 2012’s Neo Soul game-changer Channel Orange, Frank Ocean turns to his Tumblr page to mark what would have been Aaliyah’s 36th birthday, teasing a toned down cover of The Isely Brothers’ Seventies classic (At Your Best) You Are Love. The track, which he performs to stunning effect with the sparsest of accompaniment, was also a favourite of the late R&B singer, who herself provided a cover on her classic debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.

  • Modest Mouse


    Alt-icons Modest Mouse march towards their eagerly anticipated sixth album Strangers To Ourselves, the first from the band since We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank in 2007. Following the propulsive tempo of Lampshades On Fire, which aired last month, the band show a softer side to the new set with Coyotes. The track - and its aww-inducing video - were both inspired by a lone Coyote who rode Portland’s commuter trains throughout 2002. 

  • Ibeyi


    Directed by Ed Morris

    Franco-Cuban twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz unveil another striking clip created by continuing collaborator Ed Morris. As with the gorgeous videos he’s previously shot for Mama Said and River, the London based director takes his lead from the sparse beauty inherent in Ibeyi’s music and uses strikingly simple effects to heighten the haunting nature of Ghosts. The sisters’ Richard Russell produced album arrives on XL later next month.

  • The Staves

    Black & White

    Directed by Jack Whitely

    Musically speaking the Stavely-Taylor sisters are most often associated with the mellifluous Folk that underpins their intricate, heart-melting harmonies, though on new single Black & White they opt for something a little heavier. Despite this rockier shift the girls’ vocals, which in this brilliant video are voiced by the assembled cast and crew of an early Eighties Australian news programme, are still just as softly intoned and still sweetly delivered.

  • The Four Owls

    Think Twice

    Directed by Aboveground

    UK Hip Hop may have maintained a loyal and loving following over the last four decades, but no matter how fervent the support or the energy of the successive generations involved it’s largely remained a homegrown interest. The Four Owls, a masked militia made up of Verb T, Leaf Dog, Fliptrix and BVA, buck the trend and make some impressive transatlantic links with the insatiable Think Twice, hitting up none other than DJ Premier for the beat.

  • Caribou Vibration Ensemble

    CVE Live 2011

    Whenever Dan Snaith takes a live band out on the road the effects are always wondrous, the assembled musicians given free reign to interpret the original material and create something that exists within its own momentary context. When playing with the Caribou Vibration Ensemble, a much larger band made up of Snaith’s closest allies, the results are even more expansive. Following a previous CVE live album that featured Sun Ra’s Marshall Allen, this latest long player includes contributions from Four Tet and James Holden.

  • Björk


    One Little Indian

    An unfortunate leak has forced Björk to rush released her new album Vulnicura a whole two months before schedule, though the news will please fans of the iconic Icelandic musician who couldn't wait until Spring. The new set was bourne largely out of a series of collaborations with Arca, the Venezuelan born beat maker now based in East London who’s made a name for himself after aligning with the likes of FKA twigs and Kanye West, whilst Haxan Cloak also contributes to one of the tracks as well as handling the mix.

  • Natalie Prass

    Natalie Prass

    Spacebomb Records

    If there's something about Natalie Prass’s delectable debut that sounds familiar it may be down to the Spacebomb house band, who previously helped label boss Matthew E. White realise his own excellent inaugural record Big Inner. White also produces here, though this is anything but a side-concern for the Richmond-born musician; his childhood friend's commanding presence and vocal dexterity imbue the album entirely, with White only stepping in to ensure her soulful intonations are treated with due care.

  • Various Artists

    Scuba Presents Hotflush Vol. 2: Dub Pressure (2005-2008)

    Hotflush Recordings

    A move to Berlin and a five year residency at Berghain prompted Scuba to realign his Hotflush Recordings imprint with the Techno sound so inherently linked with the city and its legendary club, a switch that indirectly pushed Bass Music even further into the future. For this new compilation the producer looks back to the chapter that preceded his relocation, picking out tracks that illustrate just how important a part the label played in Dubstep’s thrilling evolution. Benga & Walsh, Vex’d and Loefah all contribute, as does Scuba.

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    British Sea Power

    Roundhouse, London

    Saturday 18th June

    British Sea Power have always been a band driven by the imagination, not least with their live shows; in the past few years they've performed live scores to Man of Aran and From The Sea To The Land Beyond, and for their current project they're collaborating with the Redbridge Brass Band. Their next appointment should prove unmissable for long standing fans as the band perform their 2003 debut The Decline Of… in full at the Roundhouse.

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    The Half Moon, Putney

    Saturday 31st January

    After a hugely successful inaugural year Independent Venue Week returns with another cavalcade of concerts in much loved local spots. Domino Records lend their support with a show featuring the inimitable Clinic, whose contorted fusion of artful Garage and evil Blues will reverberate around The Half Moon, one of West London’s best kept secrets. Peace, Palma Violets and Frank Turner will also play shows around the UK during the week.

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    The Impossible Gentlemen

    Kendal Arts Centre, Kendal

    Thursday 12th February

    The formidable quartet led in the large part by pianist Gwilym Simcock have been spending time writing new material ahead of a long UK tour which culminates in Kendal. The four players who, according to guitarist Mike Walker have been placing a much greater emphasis on improvisation with their new compositions, will head into the studio after the tour finishes and record their third set, a follow up to 2013’s Internationally Recognised Aliens.