What’s​ Good? What’s New? III the August Reviews …

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The third of our ongoing consideration of a few of the new and interesting releases 

Lloyd Cole: Guesswork

The title track is the album opener and it gets Lloyds 12thsolo album going with an insistent heartbeat. This sends out the signal that Lloyd is still alive and well and producing quality songs. He’s not succumbed to the 80’s revival circuit just yet. This album is not for the rewind crowd. Yet it’s not a radical fast forward either. 

If Lloyds first post “…and the Commotions “album had sounded like this no one would have been surprised. We have an 80’s synth heavy sound, but still mingling with a Lloyds traditional arpeggio 12 string guitar Rickenbacker sound. As some wag on Twitter said, fusing Dylan and Kraftwerk…The Ballad of the Thin Man Machine.  The songs are what we’ve come to expect from Lloyd; witty, well read and eloquent. The Voice is as smooth and as instant as its always been. This is an album that sounds at once both new and familiar. If you weren’t a fan before, you won’t be converted, but If you’ve drifted away this is a beautiful invitation to re-join the fold. 

Carly Rae Jepson: Dedicated

Apparently, according to the word on soc/med this is the Canadian popster CRJ’s ‘Blood on The Tracks’.  A full on, grown up, break -up album. With the emphasis on “up”. This is still a great shiny anthemic pop record, produced with a post Sigrid Scandinavian feel which is very current. All the songs sound like they could be singles and will be played on heavy rotation on Heart FM and whatever the modern equivalent of MTV is today.

It’s a great pop album, and CRJ has a voice and style which, ever since the great “Call Me Maybe” knows how to deliver a hook. Naysayers will call it juvenile fluff, as if that’s a bad thing! They miss the point. This is brilliant and joyous juvenile fluff. This is pure up beat teenage and pre-pubescent angst and will be devoured by that demographic as the soundtrack to endless ‘insta’ and ‘snapchat’ posts across the summer holidays. Embrace the pop.Always!

Of Monsters and Men: Fever Dream

This Icelandic band come on all Big Country on ‘Alligator’ the opening track of their new album Fever Dream, phased and gated drums, and anthemic chants. This sounds like a band destined to attack the early evening slots at the festivals over the next couple of years. Hopeful of climbing those slopes with bands like the Lumineers until at least one of them get a headline slot…somewhere. The songs are pleasant enough but not hugely memorable, they are chock full of atmospheric dips and rises, wows and flutters that will better connect with European festival goers in person. Please, resist the temptation to put a girlfriend on your shoulders.

Mini Mansions: Guy Walks into a Bar…

Mini Mansions are one of the seemingly many Queens of the Stone Age side projects. Michael Shuman leads a very glam sounding three-piece combo thru 11 great songs and sounds which will resonate with the echo of sounds of Sparks, Mott and various late 70s AOR pop bathing in Bowies light. But this is a happy homage rather than barrel scrapping pastiche. This is the sound of musicians enjoying their look in the rear-view mirror. Revelling in the beats choruses, and hooks of a different time,.a good time. Make no mistake…this is a good time record. Put it on the turntable and you will smile for 45 minutes. 

Phillip Bailey – Love Will Find A Way

With his sweet four octave voice Philip Bailey is a legend around here! Along with Maurice White, he was the voice of the seminal disco band Earth Wind and Fire. Disco doesn’t suck, it never did…Earth, Wind and Fire were nothing but a riotous and righteous fun time band. As they said “Ba, De Yah! Golden dreams were shinny days!”  Here, his new double album has a jazzy vibe…as you’d expect on the Verve label and with a supernova list of guest artist such as Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Scott, Rob Glasper et al. Although it kicks off like a, not too distant, cousin of Marvin’s…’What’s Going On?’.  But it’s not just a sonic homage, in covering Curtis Mayfield and Talking Heads, this record responds to realities of America today and the continuing black struggle. “Same as it ever was!”. But this is a positive and optimistic outlook.  The title track ends the record “come on, have faith…Love will find a way” …and with music as good as this…I believe it to be so!

Elbow: The best of (deluxe edition) 

Elbow sing vast expansive songs which constantly threaten to break out into terrace style choruses at any minute and often do! The very nice northerner, Guy Garvey sings up at the top of his register, but in a way, which is soothing and as if you’re sitting next to him on the sofa. The strings and brass are neatly arranged and give the songs a cinematic quality. They’ve been around for what seems like forever and have collected their ‘best of’ on this Triple album. So, nothing new to see here, it’s just the songs you know, which have a contrarily melancholic and uplifting feel. Not quite sure how they pull off that trick. That said, this is a pleasant, comfortable collection…it’s like putting on a slightly dated shabby cardigan that you probably wouldn’t wear out of the house…but you like how it feels as you make toast and drink tea in the afternoon!

Mabel: High Expectations

This has been a long time coming but finally Mabel releases her debut album. But it’s been worth the wait. When the muso historians of the future ask what was pop music in 2019, they will look no further than here!  This collection of bangers is a pop record to cherish, in the same way that Sigrid was earlier in the year. Although, if one knows the heritage one can recognise the influence of her parents( Neneh Cherry & Camron McVey)…which is no bad thing…however this record is all Mabel, her natural voice works beautifully within the modern autotuned landscape, the lyrics are positive and empowering for the legions of young woman who will absorb the vibes and make them their own. These tunes will own the summer.

Yuja Wang: Ravel 

A vinyl release for a performance captured 4 years ago. Yuja brings the magic, romance and fantasy of Revel to the fore. If your only reference point to Maurice Revel has been his Bolero, then this is a perfect place to step on board to a wonderfuil world of colours and sensuality. You won’t regret it. Yuja says “For me, playing music is about transporting to another way of life, another way of being”. This record does that. Yuja interprets these concertos in a way that draws in to the stunning heart of the music but transports the listener to another world. Yuju Wang is a virtuoso Pianist, its doubtful you will here this music played better. She also has a youthful energy and verve, which occasionally upsets the classical old guard, who spend much time discussing what she’s wearing. Don’t get distracted! Just immerse yourself in the many splendid pleasure of Ravel. 

Coming soon….New Releases from 

Sleater Kinney

PP Arnold


Rocketman soundtrack

Another Sky ……and many many more

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