Albums of Note... Heaped with praise and riding high in the UK charts, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 15th studio album, Push the Sky Away is not only an artistic triumph but a commercial one, too. Cave’s songwriting style has mutated significantly since his early days as frontman and resident wildcard of The Birthday Party; he now resembles a particularly well-dressed bar fly and his songs are peppered with his quintessentially erudite turn of phrase.
For our reviewer, Push the Sky Away demonstrates Cave and his cohorts at their finest:“Knowing when to stop and what to leave out, when adding more will lessen the quality and having the strength of character to just cut away the surplus is most definitely driven by the ever uncompromising Cave and here it has clearly paid dividends… Push The Sky Away' has a delicacy and tenderness woven through it like a fine silken tapestry of beguiling beauty but it can still be unflinching and brutal.”
Holy Fire is the third album release from Foals and builds on the experimental groundwork that they have lain in their previous two efforts, whilst allowing themselves room to develop a more commercial sound. Single ‘My Number,’ with its bitterly catchy chorus is a standout track, as is ‘Bad Habit,’ with its poignant lyrics jutting out above its piquant percussion and languishing synths.
“It's obvious that Foals are determined to be taken seriously as a band and not just another indie-rock fad. A change in lyrical tone paired with cultivated and immersive percussion-based instrumentals prove they have taken the perfect steps in sealing their fate for longevity.”
Stornaway – formed in Oxford, named after a Scottish town and blending the sound of Americana into their oceanic folk sound into second album Tales From Terra Firma. The band eschewed the notion of an external producer for this record – instead recording it alone in their parents’ garage. Whilst occasionally this causes them to lose their way a little, the band have managed to create an album that provides progression from the standard ‘nu-folk’ sound that is currently saturating the market.
“In the modern world of folk rock, where it seems all you need to have a hit single is a song where all the band shout 'HEY!' in unison at the beginning of every bar, 'Tales From Terra Firma' offers a refreshing and welcome change to the scene.”
You can also watch the video for Stornaway’s ‘Knock Me On The Head,’ a collection of moody, monochrome images, close-ups of the band and off-beat scenes of mock weather reporting, playing out the stormy scenes depicted in the song.
It’s been a long time coming but Theme Park are finally releasing their debut album, after putting out their debut single back in 2011. Their self-titled longplayer is a summery whirl of calypso pop, more fitting of the warmer seasons than its February release suggests. Described as a “luscious treat,” our reviewer is convinced that Theme Park will remain at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to compiling those all-important year-end charts.
“Theme Park have delivered here a great debut with a lot of personality. There's sure to be a sunny year ahead for the trio.”
A Week In Video... ‘The Bell’ is the usual broody folk affair from Villagers, reminiscent of 60s Americana, but threaded with Conor O’Brien’s distinctive style. The video shows the band playing in a rehearsal room, whilst the film is overlain with retro-style animation, giving the video a nostalgic feel, as O’Brien plays out his inner demons with a laconic grace.
We have the video from Alabama Shakes’ live performance on Saturday Night Live; a moving rendition of their blues rock number ‘Hold On.’ What begins as a controlled performance from the band swiftly develops into a wild one from lead singer Brittany, who really lets loose, teasing gravelly vocals from a distorted mouth.
Another ‘80s-tinged hit in the making from Haim, the current darlings of the UK music scene. These American sisters were named as BBC’s Sound of 2013 and they’re certainly living up to their promise with ‘Falling.’ The sisters get back to nature in the video for ‘Falling,’ as they find a wooded enclave and decide (somewhat inexplicably) to rip their outfits into slightly skimpier numbers, and get all Ray Mears on us, catching fish with their bare hands and smashing coconuts open on the rocks.
Live Review of the Week... Dave Grohl might be taking a hiatus from Foo Fighters but the man ain’t slowing down. He’s brought his Sound City Players to London, to accompany the release of his Sound City documentary, detailing the history of the legendary LA recording studio. At London’s Kentish Town Forum (probably the smallest London venue Grohl has played in a very long time), we caught Grohl and his cohort of heavy rockers as they celebrated rock history with a thrilling live performance and revolving cast of players, with Grohl remaining the centre of attention throughout.
Music In the News... The 2013 Brit Awards were slammed for being possibly the dullest Brits in living history. No real scandals, in the award announcements, or the backstage shenanigans, Ben Howard’s double win was the only head-scratching moment of the evening, but even that just made us yawn, rather than shout at the TV screen in anger.
Sad news for country music fans, as Mindy McCready took her own life, just weeks after the death of her ex boyfriend. McCready shot David Wilson’s dog, before turning the gun on herself.
The line-up for Bonnaroo 2013 was announced revealing Tom Petty, Bjork and Mumford and Sons amongst the larger acts. We highlighted some of the lesser known bands on the bills that will be worth checking out, too.