The French and British indie outfit Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains release their newest record, Banane Bleue today on Domino. It's the sort of release that doesn't try too hard to charm, and, because of that, charms tremendously. The brand of music here is easygoing, laidback but not lazy, and wildly melodic.

"The Foreigner" is complex enough to suck a listener into the rest of the album, while the breezy "Coucou" sounds a tiny bit like early Air and Sondre Lerche. "Julie" and "Holly Go Lightly" are catchy trifles, reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian at their lightest. "Revu" is slightly heavier, the keyboards anchoring this one to a sort of New Wave tradition, while "Dans un Taxi" is even better.

The temptation is to portray Lost Horizons as the new This Mortal Coil. The group, helmed by Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins) and Richie Thomas (Dif Juz), enlists guest vocalists and musicians to craft material that is ornate, spacious, and lush in spots. But where This Mortal Coil created a sort of hermetically-sealed sound, no matter who was on the track, this project's output is somewhat warmer, and altogether more improvisational in nature.

By 1999, Kurt Heasley had moved Lilys so far beyond shoegaze that a listener could've snapped a neck trying to follow the band's trajectory. The outfit's Sire debut, The 3 Way, dropped in 1999 and it conjured up comparisons to Ray Davies, but it also indicated that Heasley had pop skills utterly unlike those of most of his contemporaries.

Not so very long ago, I wrote what was for me the closest thing to a negative review as I'm likely to write here. That was for a Blanck Mass record. And today, I'm happy to write a far more favorable review for a new Blanck Mass one. In Ferneaux, out on Friday via Sacred Bones, is less a grueling chore to sit through than that earlier release. And it's a fairly successful album on many levels.

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since the last Catenary Wires album. And I probably shouldn't say that since it's not like Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey have not been busy since then. From collaborations with European Sun, to overseeing a suberb Heavenly compilation, recording a project with poet Nancy Gaffield, and cranking out singles with their newest band, Swansea Sound with Hue Williams of The Pooh Sticks, Amelia and Rob have been everywhere.

I'm old enough to remember when instrumental music got more respect, when ambient and instrumental records that weren't jazz or classical didn't get shoved into the New Age section. And while there were some good things that got labeled New Age -- Michael Hedges, Suzanne Cianni -- there was lots more that was simply just fluff. What wasn't fluff was stuff like Harold Budd, Jon Hassell, Brian and Roger Eno, and Daniel Lanois.

The German band Camera make post-punk that's brutally simple, and somewhat unrelenting. Their new record, Prosthuman, is out today via Bureau B, and it's engaing and full of inventiveness.

Opener "Kartoffelstampf" whirrs and clangs with a rustbucket appeal, the riffs here as much Ubu as they are The Fall, while "El Ley" sounds like the band's heard some Kraftwerk records.

Even though it's been a few years since the last Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds album, I'm happy to report that the group is back with a new EP this week. Swing From The Sean DeLear, out tomorrow via In The Red Records, reveals the outfit's lost none of its power, with the players here attacking some of this material like jazz mad-men.

"Sean DeLear" marches forward, a tribute to the late singer of the same name, with the chords and hooks here being nearly martial in their attack.

It's impossible for me to be objective about Children of God, the 1987 album from Swans. The record dropped, and entered my sphere of awareness, around the same time I was coming back from a very traumatic period of my life. At 20, and having dropped out of Bible college twice, I was wrestling with a lot of demons, usually ones I'd created for myself. The themes and lyrics of Children of God chilled me and shook me to my soul.

The new release from Virginia Wing is most likely the band's most accessible yet. And still, it's a daring, risky undertaking, and the kind of release which blurs the lines between genres with ease. Out now via Fire Records, Private LIFE is one of the highlights of this week's slate of new records.

"Out for Something" bursts with energy, a bubbly confection, before things go to the jazz end of the spectrum on "Soft Fruit" and other tracks here with similarly insistent rhythmic effects.
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