2020 was an incredible year for album releases, and 2021 has started off strong. Here is our pick of album releases for January.

On Rotation: Our pick of January album releases

RATS ON RAFTS
Excerpts From Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths
(Fire Records)
Excepts From Chapter 3… is a stylised and stylish modern drama that reveals intricate characters and drama that hooks you and keeps you absorbed throughout. It makes a leftward lunge into a heady blend of post-punk and engrossing psych. A massive step forward for the band, both in terms of sound, songs and concept and the final result is a record that grabs you from start to finish, takes you through a journey and leaves you wanting to flip it over and start again.
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SLEAFORD MODSOn Rotation: Our pick of January album releases
SPARE RIBS
(Rough Trade)
Williamson and Fearns have hit back with an album that doesn’t change their sound yet does in the experimental sounds on this offering which excites like Divide & Exit did. Not a return to form as they’ve never lost it. A return to hard hitting lyrics which are backed with some comedy madness, grime, dupstep and old school punk bass that excites. On their own…
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On Rotation: Our pick of January album releasesKIWI JR.
Cooler Returns
(Sub Pop)
US slacker/college pop meets UK post-punk and indie with a smattering of folky/Americana influences. Like Pavement or Sebadoh with a smidgeon of flourishes with a likening to Orange Juice and The Cribs. The strange tableaus and visions created by listening to the lyrics aren’t completely off the wall, for example, observations about the current political landscape in the US are scattered though-out but not in any sort of linear way. Kiwi Jr’s world is the perfect anecdote to the real world in 2020/21.
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On Rotation: Our pick of January album releasesTHE STAN LAURELS
There Is No Light Without Dark

(Big Stir)
The Stan Laurels have produced a work of abundant depth, cracking tunes allied to a very wise and above all human lyrical viewpoint. Just because there is only one person involved does not mean there is any less power to the music, as if you were not conversant with the fact that this is John Lathrop on his Jack Jones beforehand, you would never suspect it as anything other than a band recording and a high quality one at that. I know we are less than a month into 2021, but There Is No Light Without Dark sets a high standard for anyone else to better this year.
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On Rotation: Our pick of January album releasesMANFRED HAMIL
Everything Fades
(Cue Dot)
Everything Fades seems to document every single moment of a special night, from the build-up to the euphoric highs and the inevitable comedown. It’s as though Manfred Hamil is handcuffed to you and is propelling you along an ever-undulating rollercoaster ride. That incredible thrill of not knowing what’s coming next is absolutely exhilarating. Conflict abounds throughout, as the tracks deviate from all-out techno to ambient bliss. Twists and turns, contradictions aplenty.
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RUM LADOn Rotation: Our pick of January album releases
Vandalism
(Shop Lifter)
This is the kind of kitchen sink anger and small-town England claustrophobia that is something that we are world beaters at in the UK and the machine gun like digs at Tory Boys and a broken system hit their target time and time again. It’s great to get a modern punk record that sounds as vital and of the moment as this. Rum Lad have breathed a new life into the form with an album that sounds like the soundtrack to a film that Shane Meadows needs to make this year.
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DivideDIVIDE AND DISSOLVE
Gas Lit
(Invada)
Gas Lit may sit in the Doom or Alternative Rock sections of your record shops but don’t be fooled in to allowing this to pass you by if those genres are not normally for you for this is the latest in a long list of protest music that is set to make a difference to anyone who hears it. To hear Gas Lit is to take your clothes of and walk in to the sea, to dig your toes and hands into the Earth. It is history, it is future, it is necessary and to spend time with it is to address what it is to be human.
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For all our album reviews, head over here.

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