Welcome to The 405 Listening Club. Every Friday we'll select two albums for you to listen to; one from the new releases, one that we love, and the following week we will publish your thoughts on them. Just drop us an email or tweet us @the405 if you want to be featured and we’ll include the best takes next week.


Something Old // Held by Holy Other

I just found out that Holy Other is from Manchester and now Held makes even more sense to me. It's dense, almost stifling, full of words but often illegible. Vague enough to work all opposites of the spectrum at once: Uplifting but joyless, pumped but despondent, perfect for late nights and early mornings, rainy days with the world through glass.

Held is one of my favourite albums of recent years. IMHFO it's the only album to utilise Burial's pitch-shifting vocal style in a meaningful way (and jfc so many tried). It adds to the conversation without ever needing to speak and now it's suddenly six years later and I'm still waiting for more.

Something New // Swoll by Swoll

Let me say this: I fucking love this album.

It operates at a different pace, occupying (thus forcing you to occupy) a different headspace. it took a couple of listens to click but holy shit am I glad that it did. It's bass heavy (songs like Snow sound incredible played loud) and minimal when it needs to be. It's bleak but never overwhelmingly so, even though Slow will leave you gasping for the remaining air in your lungs. I am intimate with its hooks, it's an intimate album, a dreamy kind of nightmare. I mean nothing, not even the good stuff (especially not the good stuff) is straightforward.

Your views // Portishead by Portishead

"Discovering Portishead was a college kid's dream. You mingle with different musical minds and find the hidden corners of pop music you can't believe you hadn't heard before. Surrounding the buzz of Third, my freshman dorm floor was flipping through the band's past like rabid dogs. Dummy was the perennial favourite.

When I landed my ears on Roseland NYC Live, I realised that the burners of Portishead's self-titled were closer to the top of my trip-hop chart. Uncovering the record itself was another gift. I fell for each slow-paced intro. The tension of the lo-fi "Half Day Closing" crept into my bones like whatever was ailing Beth Gibbons at the time of recording. Jazz, a genre I hadn't yet begun to wrap my head around, leaves its mark throughout the record like clues in a noir film that shares the record's album cover. Aside from openers "Cowboys" and "All Mine", Portishead is most effective with an eerie and soul-shaking vibe.

Revisiting the record shows its age. It's not that genre-fluid enigma it once was before it seemed like the whole world knew everything about Portishead. However, there are still secrets I feel that I alone hold: the tickling guitar feedback on "Elysium," the post-rock guitar motif of "Over," the jazz hall darkness of "Only You." Though not as immediate as the records it's sandwiched between, the mystery of Portishead keeps me coming back to it. Its tale is incomplete, and I'm still searching its depths with wide eyes each time I hear it." - Michael Cyrs.

Although 2008’s comeback album ‘3rd’ would comprehensively put this reputation to rest, it always struck me as strange that Portishead would get lumped in with the dinner-party-friendly trip-hop brigade. What kind of psycho would want to listen to songs as tortured, haunted, and downright menacing as ‘Humming,’ ‘Cowboys’ or ‘Half Day Closing’, whilst shoveling prawn cocktail and beef wellington into their prattling maws, pretending to know about wine, and sharing ill-informed opinions on the politics of the day. Portishead’s sophomore album is an exercise in suffocating atmosphere. Where ‘Dummy’ was a spy film, ‘Portishead’ is pure psychological horror. Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley pull out all the stops to heighten the drama and provide the chiaroscuro scenery for Beth Gibbon’s show-stealing turns. Gibbons’ singular voice isn’t enjoyable in the conventional sense: it’s anguish embodied and vocalised. ‘Portishead’ is gripping and exhausting in equal measure. It is not easy listening. It should not soundtrack your meal." - Andy Johnston


If you yearn for more on Portishead, please read this eloquent piece from last year by Ana Leorne.

Remember you can drop us an email or tweet us @the405 if you want your thoughts on any of these albums to be featured - we’ll include the best takes next week.