Albums of Note... It’s been a long two years since James Blake released his debut eponymous album and now, the pioneering producer returns with Overgrown, album number two. Peppered with quality collaborations, with hip-hop legend RZA and electronic music’s figurehead Brian Eno, Overgrown is the sound of an artist still trying to find his niche, but releasing high quality, accomplished tracks, whilst he’s on his journey. “Blake really is a talent to behold, as his ingenious moulding together of poles apart genres and production wizardry clearly shows… when you're already as accomplished at all manner of musical exercises as he is then it will obviously be hard to focus all this talent and all this energy into one place.”
Splitting opinion like musical Marmite, John Grant returns with Pale Green Ghosts. This album may sound unrecognisable as Grant, to anyone already familiar with his work. He’s hooked up with Gus Gus’ Biggi Viera and has decamped to Reykjavik. As a result, a new reliance on vintage-sounding synthesisers and a nod to club-land has John Grant sounding like an altogether different proposition to the John Grant of days gone by.“Grant's dyspeptic edge may be blunted, but when called upon the man can make a fine ass post-modern disco song, like we ever doubted that he could, and Blackbelt is a tweaked remix away from the transient world of A Lists, charts and chat shows. Cleverly poignant, its way with knock out disses would give Jake Shears something to think about if it proved to be a permanent change of direction…”
Harmony, by New Zealand band Die! Die! Die! has been a long time coming, for many fans. It was released in New Zealand last August but has taken until now for Smalltown America to license a UK release. Luckily, it’s well worth the wait.“Structurally, most of 'Harmony' follows a similar pattern, atmospheric intros via guitar giving way to an onslaught of drums. "I wish I was someone else," spits Wilson on vitriolic forthcoming single 'Trinity', every syllable compelling, and more importantly believable. And then, just as his nervous breakdown seems complete, he announces, "I'm a changed man.." on the slightly less acerbic 'Changeman.’ Uncompromisingly brutal yet disturbingly subtle in places - check out cinematic closer 'Get Back' for further proof, 'Harmony' represents Die! Die! Die!'s most immediate collection of songs to date.”
Live Reviews... eels’ gig at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy was a seriously loved-up affair. Not only was frontman Mark Oliver Everett (E) full of the joys of spring and renewing his ‘band vows’ with The Chet, onstage but he also busied himself by calling his fellow band members to the stage or an embrace, in front of the full audience, during a triumphant and celebratory set.“Dressed in matching Adidas tracksuits the band looked like a bizarre re-invention of a sixties pop group, with Knuckles' drum kit at the front of the stage and three band members on a rear riser behind him. There was theatricality throughout, with a hilarious skit to introduce the band, and the ignition sequence during main set closing track 'Souljacker'.”
Yo La Tengo’s performance at the Barbican Centre received a solid, fault-free thumbs up from our reviewer, who thrilled, not just with their crystalline vocals and the dreamy fuzz of their performance but also with Ira Kaplan’s sparky personality. A highlight of the night was Georgia Hubley’s drumming, coupled with her confident singing, as the band play out to promote their thirteenth studio album Fade. “And while Kaplan lazily switched between languorous and feverish, McNew would provide locomotive bass - stern faced and nodding as vigorously as the sold out Barbican Hall. Hubley, though, for this reviewer, stole the show… Here's hoping Fade can be the album to see YLT deservedly acquire wider recognition. Not that they need it."
A Week In Video... They might not make an appearance in the video, but Yeah Yeah Yeahs have nonetheless come up trumps with the video for 'Sacrilege.' They’ve roped in model / actress Lily Cole to play the central character in this dour journey, told in reverse, of a woman about to be burnt on a makeshift bonfire to pay for her sins of the flesh. The song itself has a classic YYY sound, but with the added element of a gutsy gospel choir hammering out the “Sacrilege, Sacrilege” chorus. A truly rousing return for the New Yorkers.
She’s been tipped for big things and here, Laura Mvula proves why. A unique talent, Mvula sings of her own individuality and with her gutsy chorus of “who made you the centre of the universe,” she’s firmly planting the Mvula flag in the pop landscape. With tribal rhythms and a playful sense of melody, ‘That’s Alright’ has enough upbeat charm to become one of this year’s anthems.
Inc, recently signed to 4AD, start ‘Black Wings’ with the kind of reverberated guitar sound that gave the label its identity in the late ‘80s, though they are a very different breed of at to the guitar-layered rock for which 4AD became known. ‘Black Wings’ is a softly murmured R&B song. Constructed around a lilting guitar line and iced with a barely whispered vocal, the song is accompanied by a video that neatly harnesses the serenity of the song.
Music in the News... Last week was a stellar moment for Justin Timberlake, who landed the fastest selling album of 2013 so far, in the US, with The 20/20 Experience. With a little help from his pals Jay Z and Timbaland, JT has worked his magic once more and shifted over 968,000 copies in the first week alone.
The Rolling Stones were announced – as many suspected they would be – as one of this year’s headliners of Glastonbury Festival. There was a mixed response to the lineup, which also includes Artic Monkeys and Mumford & Sons.
A momentous occasion for anyone that was growing up, or a music fan in the 90s, as Britpop rivals Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn performed onstage together. The Blur front-man and Oasis songwriter let bygones be bygones when they performed together for a series of concerts organized in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, in London.