Recommended Albums... New York garage-rock new-wavers The Strokes are on album number five and Comedown Machine marks a return to form for Julian Casablancas & co. Whilst they may not be trying to replicate the pared down sound of their now-iconic debut This Is It, they have at least re-captured some of that raw energy. With a sound now owing as much to 80s synth bands such as A-Ha and Human League as it does to their beloved garage rock idols.
As a result, The Strokes, circa 2013 finds the band fully rejuvenated and seemingly enjoying themselves. They may struggle to regain the popularity that they enjoyed when the band first emerged but they have at least done themselves proud with Comedown Machine.
“This is the sound of a band that have tuned into the same wavelength and produced a collection of songs that you and, crucially, they can have fun with. It is this factor that sees them delivering on the promise of their debut and, though this may not have the same impact on the music climate, it is most definitely worth investing time in.”
Justin Timberlake has left seven years between album releases. In the pop world, that should almost definitely spell instant death for a comeback album. Not so for Justin, though, who has managed to remain in the public eye with his acting endeavours and his ongoing involvement in the music business (he was heavily involved in the re-jigging of MySpace).
With a little help from his pals Timbaland and Jay Z, Timberlake has crafted a heavyweight dose of contemporary pop music, doused in that special Timberlake magic. With The 20/20 Experience, it seems the guy can do no wrong.
“That nostalgic aesthetic (displayed succinctly on the black & white video for 'Suit & Tie') is mixed up with fashion-forward beats and contemporary context, just to prove he knows the world's moved on since the days when all women could do was sit around and wait for that high-school heart-throb to call.”
Leaders of the recent rush of attention trained on Birmingham’s music scene, Peace release their debut album In Love. There may be obvious influences from the ‘90s Britpop era in there, but they’re not simply a carbon copy of Camden’s finest. Indeed, there are musical nods not only to the likes of Blur and Oasis, but also to Sheryl Crowe and Friendly Fires, according to our reviewer’s notes.
“Despite making out that a lot of things on 'In Love' sound like something else, Peace have combined these old and new traits well. They're produced a debut that sounds weirdly fresh, despite all the references, it’s a joy to wrap your ears around and appreciate.”
The Stand In is the second full-length album from Nashville resident Caitlin Rose. As her place of residence may suggest, Caitlin owes more than a little to the city’s rich history for country music to the style and content of her songs. That said, Rose refuses to be just another country artist and brings something a little more contemporary to her songs.
“'It's sort of country, isn't it?"' a friend said, whilst watching Caitlin play recently. Take out the 'sort of' and you're 'sort of' there. All the subtle signifiers of country are there. All the clichéd signifiers of country are there. The pedal steel. The heartbreak. That hearty Southern twang. Somehow, though, The Stand-In is more than just a collection of wholesome country songs.”
A Week in Video... Dear Reader (aka Cherilyn MacNeil) chose to write a concept album, entitled Rivonia centered on the apartheid movement in South Africa and ‘Down Under, Mining’ is taken from that album, soon to be released by City Slang. Dear Reader’s music is a sideways take on folk, with layered vocals and lilting harmonies, a little akin to the earthy songs of First Aid Kit, with hints of the baroque qualities of My Brightest Diamond. The video for ‘Down Under, Mining,’ features an animation of paper figures, acting out a tale of slavery and hard labour.
They may have been busy stocking their glass cabinets with a string of awards recently, but Mumford & Sons are not taking it easy. Quite to the contrary, they now release a new single, ‘Whispers In the Dark.’ In their off-the-wall video, the screen is split into four shots, which occasionally converge to show the same image but often focus on four different characters as the band members make their way to a show and the shoot culminates in their appearance in front of a screaming audience.
Next up a live video of 'Timeless' from Airborne Toxic Event, which finds the band accompanied by The Calder Quartet. Starting out with a solo spot from singer Mikel Jollett, the video eventually pans out to his fellow band members and the accompanying quartet, for a moving and somber rendition of the song. The band have a third album, Such Hot Blood, out next month.
Music in the News... The line-up for the third day of the Wireless Festival has been announced, with Justin Timberlake and Jay Z making an appearance, along with hip-hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, Ke$ha and Iggy Azalea.
Everything Everything are all set to promote their latest album Arc, with a tour of the UK’s major cities kicking off in Newcastle on October 4, 2013 and ending in London on the 24th 2013.
Band Of Horses have announced a headline show at London’s prestigious Somerset House as part of the venue’s Summer Series gigs. Tickets for the event are on sale via Band Of Horses official website.
A new album from Empire of the Sun, entitled Ice On The Dune will be released in June, nearly five years after they burst onto the scene with the debut album. They’ve been confirmed to play the Wilderness Festival in the UK in August and will shortly be hitting the road in pursuit of promotion for the album.
On Saturday (March 16th 2013) we bid a sad farewell to Jason Molina; an incredibly talented Ohio-born singer songwriter who was best known for his work in the band Magnolia Electric Co. Jason has been struggling with poor health for several years and subsequently passed away due to organ failure. Tributes have been flooding in on Twitter as friends and family share their grief at the heart-breaking news.