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Music Albums & Singles

NOVEMBER 12 ALBUM & SINGLE REVIEWS
 

Album of the Month

Stubborn Heart

Stubborn Heart (One Little Indian)

The lovely debut album from Luca Santucci & Ben Fitzgerald is a rather splendid amalgamation of Hurts (with their high polish electronica) and James Blake (with his spacey, heart-in-the-mouth dubstep stylings). And with all those atmospheric chunks of ghostly space floating around, you’ll probably detect a bit of Portishead and The xx in there too, but the band also have a hand on the soulful pop tiller ensuring the album doesn’t disappear up its own black hole. Stark but very listenable. RM

Released November 5

Various

Haçienda 30 (New State Music)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the legendary Manc club, The Haçienda (now long since shut) and this legendary cash-in album features three CDs worth of suitably bangin’ tunes. CD1 sees Graeme Park come over all housey (“Let The Music Lift You Up” etc) while Mike Pickering replays some of the songs that made the club’s name (“Baby Wants To Ride” is always good for a boogie). Finally Peter Hook rounds things off with some Mondays some Moby some Roses and, naturally, some New Order. Get on one. Or three. RM

Out now

Fearbox

#1 (self release)

Hark! Listen very carefully and you can hear the overwhelming sound of distant galaxies colliding. Either that or Newcastle based artist, Ian Todd (formerly Telos, now Fearbox), has released a new album. And let’s make this clear from the start: your auntie will not like this release; not unless she’s into synthy noise of a distinctly roomy and troublesome nature. It occasionally sounds like God turning the dial on his radiogram, trying to find a station to soothe his mood; and it occasionally sounds like the soundtrack to an Italian horror film of the 70s – either way, you should fear this enormous box of awesomeness. RM

Out now

Holy Moly & The Crackers

First Avenue (Northern Lights Music)

If this album were a hat (and in many ways, it isn’t) it would be worn at one of the most audaciously jaunty angles imaginable. Holy Moly & The Crackers are a very well regarded Newcastle band who play folk which has an unmistakeable poppy sheen, with its toe-tapping tunes and swing your partner round and round ways. They recently won a competition to play one of the main stages at The Hop Festival and it’s easy to hear why they are currently captivating hearts with their rousing hoe-downs and pleasing mixture of styles. DP

Out now

Legendary Heroes

We Are And Always Will Be (Rhythm & Soul Records)

This Newcastle band were first formed in 1982 and achieved a modicum of success, but never released an album. But now they have! And what a belter! They’ve had a few line-up changes and now operate as a nine-piece - who are as tight as Chris Hoy’s cycle shorts – with a wide range of ages on board. They knock out soul music which is built on a strong rhythm section and plenty of hooks, and they all fit together like clockwork. Energetic, upbeat and steeped in passion, this is joyous stuff. GM

Out now

Mush

Delicatessen (Sugarsands Records)

Mush – Nicky Rushton and Sarah Van Jellie – have been a quietly considerable presence on the Newcastle scene for a good few years now and on this, their seventh release, they’ve roped in plenty of other musicians (and friends) to add some real colour to this album which is all kinds of wonderful. From fluttery ballads (now with added castanets) to woozy melancholia, the pair know how to wring real emotion out of the simplest of set-ups, and their vocals – rather like Kathryn Williams – are unadorned by any flights of fancy, but manage to hold you rapt throughout. RM

Out now

Clinic

Free Reign (Domino)

This is the seventh Clinic album  – crazy, huh? – and the Liverpool band continue to set their sat navs to “uncharted” with a release which fills its down-tempo pop tunes with all manner of fuzzy instrumentation and way-out and wonky melodies. If there was a jazz bar on one of the moons of Neptune then you’d probably hear this playing on a constant loop. DP

Released November 5

Pseudo Nippon

Colorama (Tigertrap Records)

This album is named after the empty, then squatted, photographic factory where it was recorded; and it sounds exactly like you’d expect something recorded in an empty, then squatted, photographic factory, which is a performance art piece with discordant sounds being layered over the top of someone beating Devo to death with a Speak and Spell. I found it largely unlistenable, but ironic devil worshippers will find much to enjoy here. RM

Released November 5

The Lumineers

The Lumineers (Dualtone)

This Denver trio have been something of a success story in the US this year and – in a land where Mumford & Sons are going down like a free bar at a wedding – it’s easy to hear why. They’ve got that Americana-indie-folk thing down to a tee, sounding like a more acoustic Kings of Leon, and, if they’ve not yet appeared on Later With Jools Holland, you can expect to see them there very soon. DP

Released November 5

Melody’s Echo Chamber

Melody’s Echo Chamber (Weird World)

Melody’s Echo Chamber is, in fact, Melody Prochet, a Paris-based lass and multi-instrumentalist, and for her debut album she’s really grabbed the bull by the horns and waltzed him round the room for a frazzled pop-meets-psychedelia ride, which is homespun of heart but big in scope. Motorik rhythms rub up against tie-dye electronica and her vocals (sung mostly in English) tumble forth in a sweet, dreamy tumult. Some of it was recorded in Perth with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, which – on listening – should come as a surprise to precisely no one. RM

Released November 5

Waves Of Fury

Thirst (Alive Naturalsound)

Somerset band Waves Of Fury land some big punches with their debut album which sounds like the type of thing that would have come out on the Motown label if Berry Gordy had been into trash rock rather than soul and rhythm & blues. It fairly rattles along – with echoes of everything from Spiritualized to Stax – and the singer does his best to keep singing while obviously being strangled by an assailant. Tasty in parts, but I doubt if I could eat a full one. RM

Released November 26

Friendly Fires

Late Night Tales (Late Night Tales)

Friendly Fires’ entry in the Late Night Tales series takes us on a trip through atmospheric electro pop (Junior Boys’ “Under The Sun”), elastic boogie (Renee’s “Change Your Style”), retro-future disco (Space’s “Carry On Turn Me On”), ethereal house (DJ Sprinkle’s “House Music Is A Controllable Desire”) and even shoegazer rock (Slowdive’s “Shine”). It’s an eclectic mix, but beautifully put together, and makes for the perfect post-party unwind. RS

Released November 5

Fanga/Maalem Abdallah Guinea

Fangnawa Experience (Strut)

Gnawa is a traditional and sacred form of North African music rooted in ritual and ceremony. Fanga are a French-based afrobeat collective who, teamed with Moroccan musician Maalem Abdallah Guinea, have produced an intoxicating groove monster that blends fiery West African rhythms with the hypnotic instrumentation and percussive intensity of gnawa. “Fangnawa Experience” comprises eight tracks of trance-inducing world groove that sounds so right, you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. RS

Released November 12

Anstam

Stones And Woods (50 Weapons)

Modeselektor’s label offers this intriguing slab of tough, atmospheric and cleverly wrought electronica. Each track takes unexpected turns, with eerie synths leading into heavy breakbeats or sparse percussive passages or both, resulting in some fine moments of sublime madness. Standout tracks are “Heart's Soliloquy”, in which Anstam comes off like a drunk (but still with it) Vangelis, and “Hope's Soliloquy”, which sounds like the theme tune from The Equalizer on performance enhancing drugs. RS

Out now

Various

Fine Grains Volume 1 (Fine Grains)

Promising first selection showcasing some eclectic electronic sounds from this newer label. Beatbully’s opener “Grandmagrabber”, an arpeggiated electro symphony that sounds like turbo-charged 80’s computer game music, sets the scene for a parade of diverse offerings, not least of which Inko’s robot-bossa “Leeejo” and Fitzroy North’s low-slung synth-boogie “Six Up”. On  the strentgh of this, Volume 2 will be eagerly anticipated. RS

Released November 1

 

Single of the Month

Shields

Kaleidoscope EP (Riverman Records)

This Newcastle band - alongside the likes of Wylam’s Vinyl Jacket and Newcastle’s Little Comets – are currently making some of the most vibrant pop music to be heard anywhere in the UK with “Mezzanine” from this EP in particular, a real giddy delight. Sparkling synths abound alongside some glimmering riffs, complementing a melody that could anchor a knackered shed in a hurricane. It’s pop, it’s dance, it’s Radio 1, it’s Radio 6, it’s brilliant. RM

Released November 19

Post War Years

The Bell (Chess Club Records)

This is a rather heady slice of electro indie which sounds like someone has given MGMT the keys to the drinks cupboard. It pulsates with a New Order style vibrancy, and the soaring vocals manage to lead us through the juicy throb with plenty of chutzpah. RM

Released November 5

Dewayne Everettsmith

It’s Like Love (Dramatico)

Aussie Everettsmith has a voice as clear as spring water, and he uses it to fine effect on this soulful release which gradually builds from a gentle strummer to something which sounds like it might be used by Tourism Australia in an advert. (Stop press: This song is to be used by Tourism Australia in their new campaign.) RM

Released November 5

thousand:litres

Eyes Were Dead EP (self release)

Superb release from this Newcastle band with the lead track “Eyes Were Dead” demonstrating the band’s ability to pen a delicious pop song which is imbued with a quiet passion and real ringing quality which lifts it into heart-melting territory. (Note: The band play The Bridge Hotel pub in Newcastle on Friday November 9. Should be canny.) DP

Released November 12

Bernaccia

The Keeper (self release)

This Gateshead four-piece certainly know how to write well-judged and twangy rock if this atmospheric single is anything to go by. It’s a driving, bluesy affair which grabs you from the off, relying on a lean and mean tempo to keep any bluster at bay. Utterly captivating. GM

Out now

The Smiles

Summer Days (self release)

Lovely stuff from this Middlesbrough band who know how to do indie/rock which has a spring in its step. I was even half expecting some whistling to come in halfway through as this track is so carefree. It didn’t, but this is still spry enough to lighten the mood of the most jaded of hearts. DP

The Prison Library

Lovesick (Protective Atmosphere)

This Newcastle band are starting to set antennas twanging (6Music have been sniffing round) and their new single is one of the reasons why, roping in Sarah Hall (from Let’s Buy Happiness) for a real melodic treat; a song with flowers bursting through the gaps of a tune made of solid granite. Sweet. DP

Released November 12

SHY & DRS feat Sandi Thom

The Love is Gone (self release)

I never thought that a song sampling Marillion’s “Kayleigh” would have me nodding along so appreciatively, but this outfit do just that with this PM Dawn-style slice of hip-hop. Nice. GM

Out now

The Lindsay Tin

Fire At Will (League Against Rubbish)

TLT are Paul Christian Patterson and Paul Jeans (of d_rradio and Jeans goes POP! – two very amazing local outfits) and their debut single is gently incredible. It’s an acoustic strummer that builds in a moody, steady-as-she-goes manner, gradually increasing in intensity as the chorus swells and the distant musket-like drums puncture the melody. Outstanding. RM

Released November 22

Turquoise Summers

Never Can Get Enuff/Break You Down (Peoples Potential Unlimited

Recorded in the 21st century, but sounding for all the world like it’s 1983, these two tracks of sublime electro-boogie are not to be ignored. “Never Can Get Enuff” is a supremely polished piece of intense shoulder-pad sex-beat, while “Break You Down” does just that with its pulled-back beat and moist, low-slung synths. RS

Out now

Moullinex

Take My Pain Away (Gomma)

There was little danger that this was going to be anything but a sheer joy – a mid-tempo, hi-energy stormer replete with kids chorus and a synth hook that would sound plain ridiculous on any other track. The Gigamesh remix adds guitars and space-age keyboards for a disco-rock extravaganza that evokes every great 80s movie you ever saw (or thought you saw). Makes me want to put on a headband and punch the air with gleeful, yet stylish, abandon. RS

Out now