Beirut – Gallipoli
Continuing where the last album left off, singer-songwriter, trumpet, ukelele and flugelhorn player Zach Condon's world of otherworldly folk-indie continues to deliver that grand elevating sound where those instruments dominate. Historically of course, both the band and album names evoke violence and conflict, but this is a brave new world of escapism and Phoenician beauty. Lyrically it is rather basic, even banal at times, but with a sound that is gorgeous, the brass, somewhere between Grimethorpe Colliery and the Balkans, and Condon's voice, which can divide opinion, combine to be floatily ethereal. Out on 4AD.
Beirut - Gallipoli
The Specials – Encore
Beyond all the debate about whether this is fully the Specials, now in their 40th anniversary year - no Jerry Dammers of course, nor singer Neville Staple, guitarist Roddy Byers or drummer John Bradbury, but still with Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter, this double album with live second disc is the first since 2006. It would never hit the heights of their heyday, but has some elements of past glories, such as Vote For Me, with that trombone-mournful echo of Ghost Town, a cover of the Valentines’ 1967 single Blam Blam Fever to keep that 2-Tone ska flavour authentic, and Breaking Point echoes Terry Hall's great collaborative album of the 00s, The Hour of Two Lights. So it's a mixed bag, but still one of greatest and most important British bands to cherish in current times, where we are seeing a resurgeance of the political racism they so brilliant defied in the late 1970s. Out on UMC.
The Specials – Vote For Me
Ian Brown – Ripples
After the triumphant live return of The Stone Roses four years ago, but also the disappointment of new material, and it all fizzling out again, the simian swaggering frontman returns to his more successful formula of solo work and this appears to be his most promising for 21 years, since 1998’s Unfinished Monkey Business. The lead single, First World Problems uses a tried-and-tested formula of catchy, funky anthemic simplicity with a familiar Primal Scream-style chord structure, and there are obvious shots across the bow with a version of Barrington Levy’s Black Roses seems to be significant, and in From Chaos to Harmony, the lyric: “Why do Roses all turn to stone? Too much poison …” Too bad, but monkeys must continue to do their business, and Brown won't be stopped. Out on Virgin EMI.
Ian Brown - First World Problems
Rustin Man – Drift Code
Like some vintage matured in old wooden barrels, this is fine, nutty-tasting, eccentric material, with the former Talk Talk bass player Paul Webb taking years to put together an album in which he plays all the instruments, studious learned. It fact it's his first for nearly 17 years, the last being a collaboration with Beth Gibbons. Vocally it is has Bowie and Pink Floyd feelings at times, especially on The World's In Town and Light The Light. Out on Domino Records.
Rustin Man - Vanishing Man
Unloved – Heartbreak
Second album from the LA/Belfast-based trio of producer David Holmes, Keefus Ciancia and Jade Vincent. Sounds familiar? That might be because it also soundtracked the popular BBC series Killing Eve. Cinematic orchestral elements, sexy, breathy female vocals, a 60s echoey feeling, and a lively mischief to the music make this rather splendid and different. Out on Heavenly Recordings
Unloved – Love
Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls
Gorgeously intricate, beautifully sung thoughtful songs by the Bristol-born New Zealander and band singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook, with this third album, expanding from the more purely acoustic-style material from her previous work, which included a song recorded and produced by David Lynch, Dream Wave. Out on Marathon Records.
Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls
The Cool Greenhouse - Crap Cardboard Pet EP
Simple repetition ad infinitum, old-school keyboard beats and distorted guitar are the basic materials used to sew this new project together, but the fine needlework comes in the form of the lyrics - spoken, funny,Ang matter-of-fact dry irony by Tom Greenhouse, clearly a fan of Mark E Smith, Julian Cope, and if he isn't yet, then surely also Ian Svenonius and his Escape-ism project, also highlighted on this site. Where is this going, you may ask? Nowhere really, but it's mesmerically dry fun. Out on Hidden Bay Records,
The Cool Greenhouse – Cardboard Man
Angel Bat Dawid – The Oracle
Fascinatingly odd, ghostly material from the Chicago singer, clarinetist and composer Dawid, using fragments recorded on a phone (a not uncommon method many creatives) fashioned into full pieces of music. The effect sounds otherworldly, disturbing, sometimes indulgent, but strangely beautiful at times in this experimental jazz-opera odyssey. On on International Anthem Co.
Angel Bat Dawid – What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black
Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready
Fuzz-soaked pop grunge from the LA band with their third album, and following the last, Apocolipstick. Gloomy and ferocious in equal measure, railing against Trump and more, you get the impression, singer Clementine Creevy and co are aiming to be miserably nihilistic and sensitive, but could do with little more light and shade and dynamism in volume to make their point rather than banging out what is maybe a bit too much teenage angst stadium rock. Secretly Canadian.
Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun
Don’t forget to also enjoy our voted selection of 50 or more favourite albums of the 2018:
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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