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The Temperance Movement

The Temperance Movement

Warner Music Norway

With the Temperance Movement’s only other release to date being the five-track EP ‘Pride’ (2012), the band’s first long player is a highly accomplished affair that draws, in part, on a 70s rock sound with elements of blues and folk-tinged roots. Despite early warnings suggesting the Black Crowes had been on heavy rotation leading up to the making of the band’s debut album (‘Only Friend’), it was reassuring to hear less ballsy rockers such as the tender ‘Pride’ and simply gorgeous ‘Chinese Lanterns’ constructed on aspects of folk and country. What separates The Temperance Movement, however, is the understated quality in their songwriting and actual delivery that keeps feet planted firmly on ground without a necessity to sound overblown during their more raucous moments as ‘Morning Riders’ and blues rock of ‘Know For Sure’. The simple fact remains, however, when the amps are turned down low The Temperance Movement shine to greater heights as clearly heard with the exquisite beauty of ‘Lovers and Fighters’.


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The Electric Lady

Janelle Monae

Warner Music Norway

Let’s get one thing straight as this is not what FLW was expecting when it came to Janelle Monae’s latest album ‘The Electric Lady’. Considering the cover art giving the impression of a Motown era Diana Ross & The Supremes, our ears were in fact treated to a glorious mix of weird and wonderful funk, pop and soul influenced songs. Early indications that this body of work was not going to be a straightforward Motown collection can be gleaned from ‘Suite IV Electric Overture’ that would grace any opening to a Bond movie, via a brief pit stop with Tarantino, with its western flavoured guitar followed by sweeping orchestral strings assuming full control. ‘Givin Em What They Love’ with its strident vocal delivery and echo beats is appropriately followed by the equally forceful ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ bringing to the fore Janelle’s desire for this latest release to reflect the strong matriarchal figures in her life and need for recognition of such women.  With various collaborations ranging from Erykah Badu to Solange lending a hand with the more direct pop/funk of ‘Electric Lady’, as well as the intriguing and often humorous interludes with DJ Crash – Crash, there is clearly much to digest due to the breadth of creativity on offer (i.e. compare ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ with ‘Look Into My Eyes’) but also lengthy running time. That said, ‘The Electric Lady’ is an audacious album that more often than not delivers in style.


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Love In The Future

John Legend

Columbia

Weighing in with a colossal 20 tracks, ‘Love In The Future’ sees the return of John Legend on prolific form. Having won at the Grammys an incredible nine times, Legend can afford himself the luxury of letting out the creative juices and coming up with such soulful gems as ‘Who Do We Think We Are’, featuring Rick Ross on dual vocal duties. The striking honesty and piano balladry of ‘All Of Me’ is exquisite and remains giddy on love with the proceeding ‘Hold On Longer’ expertly portrayed by means of its looser texture. The freeform of ‘Tomorrow’ contains elements of jazz combined with soul that really opens up when Legend confesses, “It’s our time, it’s our evening, don’t let it slip away, tomorrow’s too late” suggesting an artist clearly living in the moment and willing to take chances. ‘Love In The Future’ is an album rich in creativity and one that is not afraid to wear its heart proudly on its sleeve.


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Ghost Republic

Willard Grant Conspiracy

Loose Music

This is beautiful, beautiful music. Recorded in Massachusetts and no doubt in the wee small hours, David Michael Curry and Robert Fisher alias Willard Grant Conspiracy have crafted an album consisting of thirteen songs with the merest of instruments – viola and acoustic guitar – and sounding as if taken in one whole sitting as one can almost hear the furniture creaking. With the majority of the songs expressed in fragile hushed tones and aided by the atmospheric and deft musicianship bringing the songs to life – ‘Rattle and Hiss’ is one such example – ‘Ghost Republic’ sounds as desolate as the imagery of barren landscapes its songs reflect. There is considerable darkness penetrating throughout and evidenced by ‘The Early Hour’ as it steadily awakes from its slumber, strings tweaking and groaning, before walking out into the early morning light portrayed to great effect by a tetchy electric guitar. ‘Incident At Mono Lake’ appears to pick up the pieces where its predecessor left off, as a sprawling howl of feedback illuminates the climaxing tension. There is definite genius at work here, only in this instance it is the work of geniuses as ‘Ghost Republic’ is a dark atmospheric masterpiece.


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Way Down Low

Kat Edmonson

Sony

Hailing from Texas, Kat Edmonson’s ‘Way Down Low’ is largely a jazz-inspired album that emanates an old-time quality overall. Look no further than the reworking of Brian Wilson’s ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ that is definitely at home in its supper club environment somewhere in New York City as Edmondson’s vocal fills the void to a delicate jazz arrangement. There are traces of folk as well with the gorgeous ‘I Don’t Know’ and fingerpicking intro ‘What Else Can I Do’ that eventually paves way for more jazz references. The duet with Lyle Lovett, ‘Long Way Home’ is a real delight as it’s delivered with the bare minimum of instrumentation allowing for the merest hint of western swing without breaking into full flow. The closing ‘S Wonderful’ really transports the listener back to a more primitive time and suggests that Kat Edmonson was also made for an altogether different period in history. ‘Way Down Low’ is a truly exceptional experience.


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Another Self Portrait (1969 – 1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10

Bob Dylan

Columbia

Spread out over a two-disc set, ‘Another Self Portrait (1969 – 1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 ‘ is the newest release from Bob Dylan. With a considerably hefty 35 tracks to wade through of rarities and previously unreleased recordings, Bob Dylan reworks traditional and contemporary folk songs without forgetting compositions of his own; ‘Went To See The Gypsy’ is one such example straight off the bat that evokes abstract memories of the latter 60s period whereas ‘Minstrel Boy’ really projects the ambiance of the basement approach to this recording.  It has been cited that ‘Another Self Portrait (1969 – 1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10’ was considered Dylan’s most controversial periods – the transition from the 60s – 70s playing its part – yet at the same time induced a prolific bout of creativity. Considering the aforementioned number of songs covered here and the breadth of narratives – the fantastic ‘Railroad Bill’ for one – it is not difficult to comprehend why this release has been provided with such a description. More than just filler, ‘The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait’ is an essential addition to all serious collectors but also not a bad place to start for those of the uninitiated to Bob Dylan and his music.


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Made Up Mind

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Sony

Sporting the sight of a buffalo on a collision course with a steam train during the latter’s early inception to the wild west perhaps best describes the music on offer with Tedeschi Trucks Band’s second album ‘Made Up Mind’ as there is a real collision of styles whether blues, soul, folk or rock. Despite this melting pot of varying styles, Tedeschi Trucks Band manage to make things work largely due to such deft musicianship but also wondrous vocals supplied by Susan Tedeschi. Where this combination of styles works best is the gutsy blues-rocker ‘Whiskey Legs’, Tedeschi’s vocal emphasising the abrasiveness to great effect; guitar-driven zip of ‘Made Up Mind’ and two ballad-esque numbers ‘It’s So Heavy’ and more stripped-down ‘Calling Out To You’. Despite all of this greatness, ‘Do I look Worried’ steals the plaudits with its powerful, soulful delivery that is resolutely defiant in its beliefs and ably supported with some lovely brass instrumentation and raucous bluesy guitar work.


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På Rett Kjøl (single)

Bjørn Eidsvåg

Sony

Taken from forthcoming long player ‘Far Faller’, ‘På Rett Kjøl’ witnesses Norway’s Bjørn Eidsvåg team up with fellow Norwegian Kurt Nilsen to deliver a cleverly-crafted song about trying to keep a lid on those inner demons, which is never easy at the best of times. The thin veil of disguise with the almost ghostly quality of the musical accompaniment gives an indication of the thoughts alluded to as ‘På Rett Kjøl’ is a cunning ditty that possesses equal amounts of uplifting qualities. A more restrained Kurt Nielsen proves to be a masterstroke as well, as the dual vocals complement one another without overstating their undoubted qualities. A very intriguing precursor to a much-anticipated album.


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Paradise Valley

John Mayer

Columbia

John Mayer returns with latest album ‘Paradise Valley’ which sees a return to roots of sorts with a largely country-tinged affair held together by a light smattering of the more bluesy pickings he is more renowned for. Such familiar sounding ground can be heard midsection with the (almost) brisk tempo of ‘Call Me The Breeze’ that is dramatically cut short when in full swing only to be greeted by the mellow pop edges no doubt brought to the table by Katy Perry during ‘Who You Love’. In fact, there is such an effortless quality about the majority of songs held within that one cannot help but succumb to such delights of album opener ‘Wildfire’ that is all handclaps and campfire boogie or the gentle acoustic strum of open love letter ‘Dear Marie’ to realise that John Mayer possesses something of the Midas touch when it comes to songwriting.


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The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

Warner Music Norway

Interestingly, The Wild Feathers amalgamated from a number of bands where several of the members were responsible for main vocal duties. One would assume a clash of egos due to their former responsibilities but not for newcomers The Wild Feathers as they merely utilise such clear advantages to their overall benefit. The end result for the band’s eponymously titled album blends country, folk, blues and rock that harks back to a 70s era full of Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Crosby, Stills and Nash yet given a modern sheen. Guilty of such comparisons is opening track ‘Backwoods Company’; a song full of vigour with its raucous guitars spliced with occasional bluesy harmonica. Next up is the driving and melodic ‘American’ that is nostalgic in its outlook and suggestive of open roads. ‘Tall Boots’ reveals a tender side as does ‘Left My Woman’; the latter of which draws out the strength in depth of the vocals. Our money, however, is on the gathering momentum of ‘The Ceiling’ with its uplifting qualities and dramatic finale that render ‘The Wild Feathers’ a resounding success.


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The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars

Columbia

Debut album ‘Barton Hollow’ from American country-folk duo The Civil Wars was always going to be a tough challenge to overcome when it came to album number two. Despite any initial fears held due to the sheer quality running throughout their debut album, The Civil Wars pull out the stops once more and deliver a resounding triumph that expands on its predecessor with a fuller and slightly firmer sound. The cover artwork with its darkened cloud depicting a sense of impending doom sums up the regret felt during ‘The One That Got Away’. There is a real sultriness about ‘I Had Me A Girl’ that even stems to the guitar strings sounding tetchy under the song’s humidity. ‘Same Old, Same Old’ is anything but tired sounding as it reveals an aching beauty that leads appropriately into the tenderness of ‘Dust To Dust’. It is sincerely hoped that The Civil Wars fight off any further sense of unrest, as reported in the media, and make it to third base because they now have two classic albums on their CV.


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Wrote A Song For Everyone

John Fogerty

Columbia

Having a longstanding relationship in the music world, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame has teamed up with a number of interesting collaborators ranging from the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and (modern) country legends Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson, to the more indie obscure My Morning Jacket as the man himself has taken to handpicking a number of songs from his own back catalogue in an attempt to breathe new life into them. The results more than work as the raucous ‘Fortunate Son’ was built for the Foo Fighters with Dave Grohl’s trademark holler almost claiming the song for one of their own. Elsewhere ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ sees Miranda Lambert giving it the country touch with Tom Morrello adding the midway guitar break, leading nicely into a slightly more jaunty version of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ with Zac Brown. The highlights remain, however, with the Fogerty solo outings ‘Mystic Highway’- listen out for the gospel interlude – to the gritty country blues of ‘Train Of Fools’ making ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ a resounding success.



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