With Eminem’s return to his roots, and Lady Gaga’s divisive new offering receiving the lion’s share of critical attention, let’s have a look at a few publications new notable albums, with the odd dud thrown in for good measure.
Arcade’s Fire’s Reflektor has received glowing reviews from all around, with perhaps Tiny MixTapes leading the way on the gushingly flattering poll. Their categorising of the band’s style as “baroque pop for discotheque cathedrals, voodoo funeral dirges, perverted neoclassicism”, being a particular highlight from our point of view. Pitchforks Lindsay Zoladz sums up succinctly in another rave review “It’s limber and loose, as though the songs were performed live; the arrangements breathe, seethe, and sweat.”
With a name as unique as Devonté Hynes, it’s surprising the man doesn’t just stick with that instead of changing his moniker at the drop of a hat. He’s so far played with Test Icicles, Lightspeed Champion and now Blood Orange, each new apparition following a change in location; first London, then L.A. and now New York. Well, he’s a limber chap as one can witness from the video for Chamakay, but this chopping & changing of styles reveal his versatility. He’s also had a number of high-profile collaborations – Florence & The Machine and The Chemical Brothers for example. His new release Cupid Deluxe has garnered a strong response with many mentioning similarities to 1980s Prince. The Guardian’s Maddy Costa’s said of the album, “it’s so mellifluous, sensual and relaxed”, with Chamakay being “a shiver of desire: drums throb, bass slithers, and the hushed, sinuous vocals are thrillingly androgynous.”
The other hot topic rolling off critics tongues is Jake Bugg’s second release Shangri-La. Unfortunately, the general consensus is it doesn’t match up to the debut and is basically overproduced, no doubt due to super-producer Rick Rubin’s polished glean which, unfortunately, only results in a loss of Bugg’s rawness. Notable critic Alexis Petridis of The Guardian says of the change of direction, “the charming gauche-ness inflated into the kind of plonking portentousness that become Noel Gallagher’s signature style around Be Here Now.” He makes a concession about Jake’s ballads however, which are “hushed” and “delicate”.
The Sunday Times have tipped Vancouver’s Hannah Georgas self-titled second album stating she has opted for “monochromatic electronica” over her debut’s “acoustic soundscapes and lyrical toughness”. The album’s recorded with Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh, the pair evidently making a close partnership. Dan Cairns stated, “Georgas is detached and emotionally arctic; Walsh adds his icy musical touch. Stunning.”
Pitchfork’s been enjoying Darkside’s new offering. Shearwater have released a cover’s album, a tribute to all the acts they have played with – hence the title. It hasn’t fared particularly well. And Gary Barlowe’s Since I Saw You Last won the Times’ Dud of the week.
The Guardian also recently praised Creep’s Echoes, “the kind of music seemingly designed to soundtrack scenes of doomed romance in supernatural horror films”, Linda Ortega’s Tin Man & added further proof of TV On the Radio’s Dave Sitek’s King Midas effect; he’s producer on the hotly tipped Wish Bone by Oh Land.
Stereogum have been enjoying Wooden Shjip’s Back to Land and Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind, whilst the good folks at KCRW tip White Denim’s Corsicana Lemonade, Jonathan Wilson’s Fanfare and Nicholas Payton’s Sketches of Spain.
Good Diggin’s & muchos abrazos,
The most controversial Music Award in the world has received its fair share of the media spotlight recently. Calls from critics to abandon the award as a hopelessly pretentious and essentially meaningless accolade have been echoed from many voices, with Vice’s music writer Sam Wolfson stating the award needs to be “locked in a room with a shotgun and bullet”, in a particular scathing but entertaining review.
The Guardian and Observer have remarked that this years list of nominees have been the safest ever and that any ideas the Mercury Prize is introducing people to new music is deluded. There has also been calls for the anonymous judges to be unveiled.
For me, it is still a force for good generally, as I haven’t listened to a number of the nominees this year including Laura Mvula, Discolsure or Jon Hopkins – and do remember folks that just being on the nominee list is getting good exposure for all those involved. Plus a few years ago Pj Harvey won it with her spectacular album Let England Shake – so the judges tastes ain’t all that bad. Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid was also a worthy winner.
On to this year’s winner. I was a fan of his eponymous debut, and Overgrown has been reverberating against the walls of our building for some time. Surprising and also intriguing winner. His debut was also nominated, which might prove his credentials.
Have a listen to Digital Lion, a track he did with his hero, Brain Eno.
For those who want to hear snippers from all the nominees, check out the Telegraph’s good round-up.
And here’s a look at some past year’s winners, enjoy.