The gift of the written gab….

A well written music review is a thing of beauty. A reviewer is a rare bird-dog, half writer and half music boffin, and a good review captures the best parts of both. Reviews are usually bite-sized and easily enjoyed over small moments. In the morning I always turn first (yes, old school newsprint) to the reviews in the newspaper. It’s especially delicious if I’ve been to the gig or listened to the album.  Reviews serve a useful purpose too, guiding us deftly through the assault course of instantly-accessible music. In this way, I think they have assumed a greater influence than previously, providing a welcome steer to people flummoxed by the over-abundance of choice.

I really like this review of S.Carey’s album Hundred Acres (as well as really liking Hundred Acres). Although I don’t agree with the score, the writing (and the album) has some beautiful moments: Where Vernon relishes poetic extravagance, layering his band’s music with numerology and a pine-scented sense of lore, Carey’s appeals to the heart are far less adorned. I don’t think I’ve read a more apt description of Vernon’s music (otherwise known as Bon Iver) as a pine-scented sense of lore. Although Pitchfork is most definitely up its own ass, the contributing writers are brilliant.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/s-carey-hundred-acres/

And then there is Alexis Petridis, the Guardian’s rock and pop critic. I often concur with Petridis’ reviews, so he’s a pretty safe bet when I want to hear something new. Have a read of his review of Young Fathers’ album Cocoa Sugar. I first listened to Cocoa Sugar on  a Monday night after a Hell Day at work. I was knackered. No energy reserves whatsoever. But after a few minutes of listening to this album I was successfully mortifying the kids with my ridiculous dance moves. So good. Cocoa Sugar isn’t a particularly easy listen (we’ve got Carey’s Hundred Acres for that) but it’s a furious, energetic take on the modern world. It feels like today.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/08/young-fathers-cocoa-sugar-review-twisted-sounds-for-a-twisted-world

If you read the review to the end you’ll see a mention of Ali Farka Toure.  Listen to his work. Incredible.

And just because they are so outstanding and I’m drawn to them like the Pied Piper’s children, here’s a review of The National’s Sleep Well Beast.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/07/the-national-sleep-well-beast-review

There’s something about Walk It Back that gets under my skin. I think it’s the cheesy melody at 1.16. Perhaps it’s tapping into an old memory in my head – some 80’s TV theme maybe – it’s so familiar. Can anyone help?

Will leave you with this perfectly-formed little gem from Anderson .Paak

The Year of the Chimera – 2014’s Best Albums

2014 was an interesting year for music. Established names pulled out career defining albums, while new artists stomped over the rickety remnants of genre boundaries to produce brilliant debut hybrids. There was more than something for every type of listener. For me, ‘Lost in the Dream’ by The War on Drugs stood above the others. Every time I listen to it I think of The Boss’ third album ‘Born to Run,’ albeit with an aesthetic of smoke and mirrors and hazy psychedelica. ‘Lost in the Dream’ was also Adam Granduciel’s third album, a labour of love in which he worked through panic attacks and anxiety to produce what I reckon is an enduring masterpiece.

I haven’t ordered these albums in any meaningful way except alphabetically and, at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a spotify playlist with  a couple of songs from each one. Continue reading