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The Blessed Unrest

Sara Bareilles

Epic Records

(Very) American indie-pop is the order of the day when it comes to Sara Bareilles third outing ‘The Blessed Unrest’. There are terrific vocals throughout this album and some very intelligent compositions to be had with the hidden depths and leading piano of ‘Hercules’ and the delicate introspection of ‘Manhattan’ with the barest hint of brass instrumentation passing through at various intervals. ‘Satellite Call’ follows in similar fashion but weighs slightly more heavily on the brooding side of things before opening skyward on Bareilles signature vocal. While there may be some cynics deeming ‘The Blessed Unrest’ as mere TV fodder (i.e. the perfect accompaniment to the latest string of US dramas) such notions remain unwise, despite the obvious initial familiarities, because Sara Bareilles has produced a thought-provoking body of work with much to offer if given the time.


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Long Way Down

Tom Odell

Columbia

With a voice that belies his tender years and not too dissimilar from Jeff Buckley, ‘Long Way Down’ is the debut album from Tom Odell. Having won the critics’ choice prize at this year’s Brits, the award was more than justified considering the quality of the songwriting. There are, however, moments where the songs on display would benefit from a little variation and a little less of the Buckley-isms but considering we’re on the first stepping stone to possible future greatness such quibbles are merely small gripes. The gathering momentum of ‘Grow Old With Me’ sets things up nicely only to be hastily pushed aside by the barroom piano stomp that is ‘Hold Me’ bringing to mind Paul McCartney and Mike Scott of ‘Waterboys fame. There is some niggling tension running through ‘Another Love’ as Odell lets out an expletive that thankfully ushers away any notion of always the victim only to be brought back down to earth with the beautiful yet barely audible ‘Sense’. Despite the sadness, Tom Odell’s world is not about to crumble just yet as there is definite mileage in this singer-songwriter.


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Dirty Girl Blues (single)

Burning Condors

Snakehand Records

London four-piece Burning Condors evoke memories of a pool of bands who once peddled that scuzzy, sleazy rock ‘n’ roll and blues-inspired sounds from Gallon Drunk to The John Spencer Blues Explosion that sat comfortably with the indie market. ‘Dirty Girl Blues’ is another step in the right direction that tantalises the senses with its sultry buzz saw slide guitar that underpins the tension further with its chiming tones during “That girl never gets what she wants, That girl never gets what she needs”. The flipside ‘What Your Mamma Said’ deserves equal billing as it is a frenetic number laced with lovely backing “wha-oo” vocals before the end result eventually collapses under its own steam. A definite hot prospect.


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Live Love, Give Love

Fanny Mae & The Dynamite Believers

Enviken

Latest export on the Enviken label is Sweden’s Fanny Mae & The Dynamite Believers with the rather magnificent ‘Live Love, Give Love’. Thirteen songs ranging from varying degrees of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll with added swing and a knowing pop sensibility that sets out this debut as a little bit different. Such indications are clearly signposted in the dark undercurrent flowing through ‘Condition Unknown’ and the ballad-esque ‘Rocket Scientist’ with both giving way to the possibility of crossover appeal. There is of course more familiar territory with the rockin’ and gritty ‘Right Here Again’ and seriously infectious soda pop inflections of ‘Hipshakin’ that will even have the normally restrained amongst us shaking their limbs. ‘A Place In My Heart’ reveals a lilting chorus that catches you unaware and soon claims your heart whereas polar opposite ‘Can’t Stand Your Love’ has more than a whiff of Buddy Holly about it. With a more than competent cover of Bobby Darin’s ‘Dream Lover’ possessing glimpses of sunlight, especially when the vocal reveals its rawness, to the cautionary tale of ‘Time Don’t Heal Every Wound’ and gallows bound ‘Stand Up’, ‘Live Love, Give Love’ is a prime example of a band leaning on the past yet equally at home in the present.  


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Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work

Ben Lee

Lojinx

How time flies! It certainly does when one considers the great departure in sound from the indie-pop of ‘Breathing Tornados’ and latest album from Ben Lee ‘Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work’, but it only seems like yesterday – fourteen years, in fact – that ‘Nothing Much Happens’ had such a ring of truth about it. Described as Ben Lee’s most ‘ambitious work to date’ and as a ‘sonic document’ of various experiences with the medicinal plant Ayahuasca, the ten tracks presented here sees the Antiopdean edge closer to John Lennon in spirit due to the desire for experimentation and exploration of untapped levels of consciousness. Nowhere is this more evident than the entering through the portal of ‘Welcome To The House of Mystical Death’ and greeted by a shamanic Tricky before opening up into the light of ‘Meditation On Being Born’. There is beauty to be found here with Appleonia and Ben Lee providing dual vocals to, ‘In The Silence’ stretching out an arm to Lee’s past work, whereas the delicate and skeletal nature of songs ‘The Shadow of The Mind’ and more developed ‘The Will To Grow’ continue the experimental journey. It is satisfying to know that artists such as Ben Lee remain willing to push the creative envelope further by taking risks which to others may seem like commercial suicide. ‘Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work’ was one risk worth pursuing as it is a fascinating addition to a lengthy catalogue of work.


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Damage

Jimmy Eat World

Sony

Eight albums in and Jimmy Eat World is still decrying about a broken heart. If it wasn’t for the band’s ability to pen a tune or two, then such sentiments after such a lengthy run would have seen their entire catalogue tested for air travel from the nearest window. As it stands, ‘Damage’ tugs at the heartstrings once more with an irresistible set of songs which, if they had been the equivalent to confectionary would have caused severe tooth decay due to their addictive qualities. Title track, ‘Damage’ is a timely reminder of such abilities with its tale of precaution wrapped in a melodic structure. The pulses might be slowing but such disadvantages merely highlight the band’s experience during the reflective ‘Book of Love’ and ever-present Jimmy Eat World tearjerker ‘Please Say No’. There remains life in the tank, however, with the dynamic ‘I Will Steal You Back’ and ‘How’d You Have Me’ before slipping into a more comfortable pace with ‘Byebyelove’. Not exactly reinventing the wheel, Jimmy Eat World deliver album number eight in considerable style despite one or two familiarities proving a little worn.


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I’m Going To Kill Myself

Sneeze

Close To Home Records

It was only a matter of time before the ghost of grunge or, more to the point, post-grunge decided to rear its head with the unimaginative yet fitting appellation assigned to Boston three-piece Sneeze. To be totally honest, ‘I’m Going To Kill Myself’ is not a complete step back in time, however, as there are moments to enthuse over here. Right from the off, the meaty and brooding ‘Intro’ really sets out the band’s stall with a vocal straining against the gritty guitars whereas ‘Quit Shitting’ shifts tempo with relative ease, offering a little more in the creative department despite its all abrasive sound. The garage punk of ‘Vaticant’ is a short, sharp, shock before paving the way for the familiar grunge territory of ‘Canker’, ‘Park Her Head’ and ‘Red Bullgirls’; the latter of which would make Buffalo Tom proud. Whether the world is ready for a band such as Sneeze at this precise time is a matter of opinion, but for now, at least, ‘I’m Going To Kill Myself’ is a decent reminder of an otherwise all too familiar genre.


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BE

Beady Eye

Columbia

While the world waits for the Liam and Noel reunion, Beady Eye’s second long player actually comes with a strong recommendation of being rather good. Sure, there are still one or two nods towards Liam Gallagher’s former band, coupled with some grating rhyming by numbers lyrics, but at least this time around Beady Eye has managed to step off the Oasis carousel for the majority of the ride. The noticeable difference is a greater use of restraint best heard on the brooding ‘Soul Love’ and beautiful delicacy of ‘Start Anew’ that eventually soars into orbit and recalls guitarist Andy Bell’s former cohorts. ‘Second Bite of The Apple’ could be a personal note to self or merely noting the cynicism of the music press with Liam having his feet tickled by the latest edition of the NME. Elsewhere, ‘Soon Come Tomorrow’ meanders into an enclosed area unable to find the exit due to its lack of direction only to be rescued by the more lively ‘I’m Just Saying’ and experimental duo of ‘Don’t Bother Me’ and ‘Shine A Light’. It seems the sibling rivalry looks set to run another course as Beady Eye have reinvigorated themselves and raised the bar somewhat.


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Don’t Foget Who You Are

Miles Kane

Columbia

Miles Kane’s debut ‘Colour of The Trap’ bypassed FLW which was to our detriment. Latest album, ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ thankfully readdresses this unfortunate oversight as second chances do not always reveal themselves. Resembling a younger Paul Weller, and possessing the same ability to write numerous hook-laden songs, Miles Kane revels in a 60s sound that is given a modern day indie sheen perfectly highlighted by the delightful handclaps and rousing chorus of ‘Better Than That’. Title track, ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ manages to skew in elements of fellow scousers The Coral before riding a gloriously uplifting wave of a chorus the sort The Verve used to conjure up with relative ease. ‘Out of Control’ even recalls Richard Ashcroft, and is a clear indicator of perhaps where he should be, while ‘You’re Gonna Get It’ is a relentless ball of energy and nicely complimented by the more Stones-esque darkly induced rock of ‘Give Up’. ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ is not breaking any new boundaries but is definitely welcome when others are failing to live up to former glories.


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Lost Ships Sinking With The Sunset

Gillian Carter

Dog Knights Productions

Palm Bay’s Gillian Carter is really on the brink of subsiding into a state of nothingness with the clues being hidden in such lonely vessels as ‘Waking Up (Lost Ships)’ and appropriately titled ‘I’ve Been Forgotten And So Have You’. There is time for reflection, despite facing the inevitable, when the brakes are applied during ‘Recently’ whereas ‘Time (All That Is Left Is Fading)’ suggests a sense of humour with the band enjoying their last supper together before the diminishing light finally fades. It is left, however, to the penultimate, and almost title track, ‘Sinking With The Ships’ to really tower over the preceding content as it’s an absolute colossus of a song ending in a wafer thin line of feedback and fading pulse of accompanying drumbeat. Bleak yet utterly compelling, ‘Lost Ships Sinking With The Sunset’ signals out Gillian Carter as one of the serious contenders in their field.


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Supersonic Pulse

Ralph Myerz

Sony

Formerly of The Jack Herren Band, Ralph Myerz has set his course on a solo mission in terms of latest album ‘Supersonic Pulse’. Despite this being a Ralph Myerz album, the number of willing volunteers lending their services gives the impression of a band at work as everyone from Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Da Youngfellaz to Diana Ross and The Supremes weigh in with invaluable experience. Despite the high level of collaborations, the consistency and flow of ‘Supersonic Pulse’ remains unaffected but can be attributed to its four year gestation period allowing room for experimentation and no doubt numerous retakes. Highlights include ‘Do The Damn Thang’ with Snoop Dogg, ‘Something New’ featuring Diana Ross and The Supremes peeling back the years with some beautiful vocals and the central narrative of the entire album ‘A Dream U Can Feel’ seeing Myerz in reflective mood and brought to life by Da Youngfellaz and K-Quick. However, the abrasive surface and gruff tones of David Banner’s ‘So Romantic’ and dark tinges of ‘Take A Look At The World’, with its appropriate sounding sense of detachment, bring home the prizes overall when it comes to ‘Supersonic Pulse’.


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Somewhere In Time

Ilias

Untitled

Despite its misleading imagery that will no doubt have the rockabilly fraternity salivating in droves, Sydney based producer and songwriter Ilias has constructed an album’s worth of material best suited to the genre of indie. The end result is ‘Somewhere In Time’ which lives up to its moniker as the whole album gives the impression of fleeting memories rather than detailing the intricate parts of a succession of broken relationships. Such emotions are given credence due to the dreamscape atmosphere wafting through nearly each and every song from the opening hazy shimmer of ‘Never Utter The Word Never’ to the delicate strumming and texture running through ‘One Of A Kind’. ‘This Life’ provides a bit more meat on the bones in terms of the central protagonist only to head straight into the same cryptic tunnel once more with  ‘Lonely’ despite a more robust tempo. Clearly one to not give too much away, Ilias has conjured up an album that is beautiful in its execution, recalling elements of Radiohead, Travis and even more encouragingly the sparseness of a latter-day Talk Talk, and remains equally beguiling in terms of its scant narratives.



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