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…”
John Grant's last album Queen of Denmark represented an echo of a phenomenon rarely seen these days; a slow burning, word-of-mouth success that eventually piled up mentions in the 2010's release of the year polls despite the singer's obvious estrangement from the music industry's hype circus. What made its power and worthy recognition all the more heart-warming was that seldom had a record so filled with misplaced self-loathing wanted to be loved so much, it's the songs' visceral subject matter - inspired largely by growing up gay in hyper conservative Colorado - matched only by their gorgeously beige musical counter punches, a quilted subtlety courtesy of the singer's friends Midlake.
Finally then, everything it seemed was working out fine for the first time in Grant's hitherto emotional war zone of an adult life, until shortly after he was diagnosed with HIV, a fact that with typically mind blowing candour he announced on stage to a bewildered audience in 2011 at London's Meltdown festival. Now finding his life once more sent into a tailspin, it might have seemed in his darker moments that the vengeful god on Queen of Denmark's JC Hates Faggots was indeed having the last laugh after all.
If all of this has scared the crap out of you but you're still here, fear not. Recorded in his newly adopted home of Reykjavik with Gus Gus supremo Biggi Veira producing, Pale Green Ghosts is less knowingly confrontational that Grant's first album, as if the prejudiced demons he sought out on it have now been consigned to just memories. Musically it's a major departure as well, ditching the seventies FM saccharine tones and replacing them instead with retro synthesisers and the chillier ennui of late 20th century European clubbing.
Continue reading: John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts Album Review
Ex The Czars frontman/songwriter John Grant releases I Wanna Go To Marz, this is the first track from his debut solo album Queen Of Denmark although each song on the album was written by Grant it was recorded with the help of Denton, Texas' five piece Midlake. Mojo magazine gave the debut huge praise by labeling it as an 'Instant Classic', an accolade that in recent times was achieved by albums from Joanna Newsom and Fleet Foxes.
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John Grant is the former lead singer of Denver's gloomy but grand Czars, a band whom you probably haven't heard of. Queen of Denmark is his first solo record, one recorded in collaboration with Texans Midlake, who you absolutely should have heard of by now, and indeed taken to your hearts.
Continue reading: John Grant, Queen of Denmark Album Review