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A Hundred Nights Like This

Captain Gone

Nordic Records

‘A Hundred Nights Like This’ is a timely reminder of the kind of melancholic indie pop Neil and Tim Finn conjured up when Crowded House weren’t offering, musically, one of their more uplifting compositions. This remains an album suited to the wee small hours as lead vocalist Jon Arne Bjørnstad often sings in a hushed tone and complemented by strings and occasional faint splashes of brass instrumentation revealing a sense of longing and reflection concerning past relationships. Album opener ‘Going For A Song’ perfectly sums up the mood here, with its sense of trepidation and call for resistance when love comes to town, whereas former single ‘Romeo’ adds some bite with its tetchy guitars and cleverly-crafted lyrics eking out a wry smile during; ‘Romeo, you’re letting down the show, You’re getting awful slow boy, We’ll have to let you go, You showed such promise at the start’. As far as debut albums go, ‘A Hundred Nights Like This’ is an intriguing body of work drowning in a pool of tears as love is clearly murder.


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Any Old Trollop, Same Old Port

Folk Grinder

Koozie Johns

Riding a wave of sea shanty rock ‘n’ roll, Folk Grinder breathes life into a steadily increasing tired indie genre. Armed mainly with an acoustic guitar, accordion and piano in order to transmit their tales of love, loss and regret, Koozie Johns and Miro Snejdr remain two souls lost at sea. Nowhere is this more evident than the lure of ‘England Dreaming’ stretching out its nostalgic embrace to the simply gorgeous ‘Old Habits (Can Be Hard To Kick)’, complete with backing vocals, and ‘If You Need A Little Love’ tugging at the heartstrings. Despite such magnificence on display, it is left to the deeply personal ‘Halfway Home’ to offer some salvation from the choppy waters Folk Grinder has experienced and will no doubt continue to find themselves adrift in.


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All American

Superfamily

Das Kirurg

Slightly distraught at the notion that Superfamily could change their synths for an all-out electric album consisting only of guitars, the band thankfully offer no such thing as ‘All American’ sees the band sink further into the quagmire of early eighties New Romantic pop, which is a welcome relief to the ears of FLW. In fact, Norway’s Superfamily could have supplied the soundtrack for the BBC smash hit TV drama ‘Ashes to Ashes’, with many being none the wiser as to the actual era this band inhabit.

Sure, there are nods to the band’s back catalogue with ‘Don’t Say A Single Word’ which is trademark Superfamily, but no less compelling as a result, but it is the manic delivery – reminiscent of prime era ‘Associates ‘The Affectionate Punch’ and ‘Sulk’ – of title track ‘All American’ which really arouses the senses and flexes its anxieties concerning the threat of Americanisation on a global scale.

Where this fourth effort differs from previous Superfamily releases is that the reins are slightly tightened in terms of a less-is-more approach due to the minimalist, ‘I’m On Your Side’ and more restrained, ‘Some Girls’. If anything, it’s time to transmit this ‘All American’ frequency to more distant shores so that the band can reach the stellar heights their music clearly deserves.


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Wilderness

Alfred Hall

Sony

Shimmering in the summer sunlight despite being engulfed by personal anxieties, the aptly titled ‘Intro’ reveals the first insight into the world of Alfred Hall. The following set of songs suggest nothing but a promising debut album as ‘Wilderness’ is steeped in a mixture of gentle and often uplifting melodies sighting such contemporaries as Hurts and the often forgotten It’s Immaterial as among possible influences. ‘Too Young’ is simply gorgeous in its execution with its sparse arrangements echoing The Blue Nile’s classic ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’, whereas ‘Somewhere Beautiful’ is exactly a depiction of what it says on the tin. If Alfred Hall can maintain the consistency shown throughout this first offering, then the future certainly looks bright for the boys from the wilderness as the neighbours of Drammen have something new to gossip about over the garden fence.


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Presence

Christel Alsos

Sony

A welcome return for Christel Alsos with arguably her best album to date in the form of ‘Presence’. There is a more relaxed feel to the recordings but this does not mean Alsos’ emotions are any less fraught as once more she parades heart on sleeve reflecting on the remnants of relationships long since sailed. There are shades of Bristol’s Portishead on opening tracks ‘Remember It Now’ and ‘Conquer’ that adds to the ethereal qualities heard throughout,  whereas ‘Falling’ offers a slightly more upbeat tone and ‘Follow Me’ reveals its folk roots. It is left to ‘Found’, however, to literally bring this body of work emotionally to its knees as Alsos reiterates; ‘Oh, there is a place for me, Oh there is a place for me’ in an attempt at self-reassurance despite the open wounds of the vocal delivery giving the game away.


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Look To The Sky

James Iha

The End

Ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha finally dusts down the guitar to return with only his second solo offering after his debut back in 1998. That is not to say that Iha has not been a busy man during the intervening years due to various sound projects but it’s ‘Look To The Sky’ which really puts him back on the musical map. In fact, initial first impressions suggest that Iha has hardly been away, as guitars jangle and images of long-gone hazy summer days are projected (‘Summer Days’). Despite residing in a comfort zone of sorts, this does not diminish the qualities of ‘Look To The Sky’, as the sizable gap between first base and second has been long enough to give this sophomore release the gloss of a debut.


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Field Music Play

Field Music

Memphis Industries

The bandwagon of followers has steadily been gathering pace for the works of Field Music and it is not difficult to understand why. Spilling forth a selection of covers taking in the Pet Shop Boys, Roxy Music, Syd Barrett to name but a few, brothers Peter and David Brewis not only maintain a level of respect to the original compositions but add their own deft touches making this limited release something to savour.


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Generation Terrorists

Manic Street Preachers

Sony

On its first release, ‘Generation Terrorists’ was issued in a fanfare of slogans and rants concerning social, political and cultural issues, but more notably for the pronouncement that the band would disband after this debut album. Thankfully, the Manic Street Preachers decided to stay the course and the rest is history. This time around, ‘Generation Terrorists’ has arrived under a fanfare that is more attuned to pipe and slippers than the previous angry incarnation. However, for those who missed out on this timely release during the early nineties, then there is much to delight in here, whether it’s the rifftastic ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ or the epic finale, ‘Condemned To Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Generation Terrorists’ still manages to evoke levels of passion not found in many of the band’s contemporaries.


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5×5 Live

Simple Minds

Virgin

Simple Minds is going through a resurgence of some sorts after a staggeringly good 2012 that saw the band taking in various European destinations with their ‘5×5’ live set which has now transferred to this live album release. Covering the years 1979 – 1982, the first five albums was not only a fertile period for the band but also hugely creative as songs such as the instrumental ‘Theme For Great Cities’, ‘I Travel’, ‘Thirty Frames A Second’ and ‘Premonition’ sound just as current as the day they were first conceived. It will be intriguing to see where Simple Minds go from here after these mesmeric performances.


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Hats

The Blue Nile

Virgin

If I had to define melancholy, then I would have to say The Blue Nile’s ‘Hats’. Perfection exemplified in a variety of ways, ‘Hats’ was the long-awaited follow-up to ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’, which is also receiving the reissue treatment, as the band truly delivered their masterpiece. As far as late-night albums go, ‘Hats’ is the only one you’ll ever need as it’s true, happiness can be found in sadness because despite the despondency often heard throughout this body of work (look no further than ‘Let’s Go Out Tonight’ or ‘From A Late Night Train’) there is something gorgeously wonderful about the downbeat tone being expressed here, rendering this release as simply essential.


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The Adults

The Adults

Warner Music

Taking a sabbatical from his day job with New Zealand’s Shihad, Jon Toogood has come up with a side project of sorts in the form of The Adults. Containing a more subtle sound than the previously mentioned Shihad, The Adults is an album to be filed under ‘grower’, as songs take their time working their way into the listeners’ senses. Patience is duly rewarded with the dual vocals of ‘A New Beginning’ as it steadily burns, and followed by the ever-so-slightly energetic ‘Reunite’. There is a glowing light surrounding ‘Sleep Me Tight’; a song of real innocent beauty and reflecting the tender side of Toogood. But it is perhaps the compositions ‘Most Important’ and ‘Anniversary Day’ that offer a more commercial appeal in order to appease those wanting a more instant fix.


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Funeral Beach

Blood Command

Fysisk Format

It’s reminiscent of a pneumatic drill hammering away before this album storms the barricades in a three pronged attack consisting of ‘Pissed Off And Slightly Offended!’, ‘March Of The Swan Elite’ and ‘Cult Of The New Beat’ as wave after wave of guitars and a white noise of vocal histrionics are simply relentless. There is no time to come up for air as Blood Command has found their conduit as a means of venting their anger at the social constraints of society and all those willing to conform. Cocking a sideways snipe at the aristocracy but also the cult of celebrity, the above mentioned ‘March Of The Swan Elite’ sets a clear intention of where this five-piece from Bergen wish to find themselves in the wider scheme of things: ‘Don’t ever let us in, cause we must keep you out’. With great insight, intelligence and showing glimpses of possible future musical direction with the more melodic ‘High Five For Life’ and sublime double-header of ‘Here Next To Murderous’ and ‘True North, Blood Command is shaping up to be a band with special promise, just as long as they can keep out the social sycophants for long enough.



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