This week’s new albums reviewed...
ill Manors ****
Crackling with vitriolic verse and convulsing to broken beats, Ben Drew has made a definitive record for these damaged times. He insists this is no soundtrack to the film of the same name that marked his directorial debut last month, and it has all the qualities to stand alone, although the sequences of dialogue woven into the musical fabric of the album enhance the concept.
Where ill Manors triumphs, though, is through a succession of winning pop songs in a hip hop setting, from the extraordinary Drug Dealer, which does exactly what is says on the tin, to the even more addictive hook of Lost My Way.
The keyboard sound of the Special AKA’s Ghost Town filters through most of the assembled tunes, to the hypnotic closer Falling Down. A particularly shiny star goes to punk poet veteran John Cooper Clarke, held in no little reverence by Drew, who brings his dogged Salford dialogue to Pity The Plight. That contrasts nicely with the London estate dialect that dominates ill Manors from the arresting title track throughout – calling out to complacent rich kids the length and breadth of the country. Deepest Shame and The Runaway are cuddly R’n’B sheep in hip hop wolves’ clothing, soothing songs with real bite.
Download this: ill Manors, Drug Dealer, Pity The Plight.
Channel Orange ***
Ocean’s debut album is an intriguing work in progress, mixing smooth pop soul with precious portions of personality. Fertilizer flirts with the cheekiness of Prince, but shies away from that cocksure quality that oozed from the wee purple lad in his prime. Lost gets more to grips with that minimalist funk groove, Mad Religion lets it slip from his grasp, and Forrest Gump is downright puzzling. Channel Orange is definitely worth tuning into, but perhaps more in hope than expectation. A couple of big collaborations do not a career make, but watch this space.
Download this: Fertilizer, Super Rich Kids.
The Gaslight Anthem
The New Jersey band work the Southside Johnny legacy, but despite being younger and prettier than The Hold Steady, they never capture that combo’s irresistible joie de vivre. Mulholland Drive, Keepsake and the title track throw the right shapes and occasionally hit the right chords, but struggle to capture the imagination with their rather lumpen melodies. In an attempt to escape the post grunge feel of earlier albums, the band’s true identity appears to have got lost in the mix. Too Much Blood sounds like something Eddie Vedder would lose on the studio floor, and is lost between rock and a not hard enough place.
Download this: 45, Howl
Stan Getz Quartet
Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series Volume 29 ****
TCB TCB02282, £12.99
Recorded in Zurich in 1960 by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, this superb swinging six-track set by Stan Getz finds the tenor man at the peak of his pre-bossa nova powers. At the time of this concert, which was part of a Jazz at the Philharmonic tour, Getz was living in Copenhagen and had brought a Danish rhythm section with him. But en route to Zurich he fell out with his bassist and drummer, so Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen were co-opted in from Oscar Peterson’s trio to join pianist Jan Johansson. The results are simply sublime.
Download this: Gone With The Wind, I Remember Clifford
Sharon King and the Reckless Angels
Nothing = Everything ****
Sharon King Music SKM0001, £11.99
King takes a quantum leap, musically, in this third album, accompanied by two angelic acolytes – Vera van Heeringen and Amy Geddes – on mandolin, guitar, violin, viola and lush, accurate backing vocals. Heather MacLeod adds her vocal arranging abilities strongly (and quite a few males are in support) to turn out a measured, well-produced collection of independent songwriting that only hints at King’s transatlantic country genesis and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than personal, strong-minded and often very moving. They’re now off to take this magic to a hall near you round Scotland.
Download this: I Lay Here With You
Snapshot Symphony ****
Dacapo 8.226545, £12.99
The Danish composer Niels Marthinsen lives what he calls “a shockingly ordinary life” with his wife and children in a Copenhagen suburb, but that doesn’t stop his musical imagination running amok, especially given a fondness for adventure movies about comic-book heroes. This constantly surprising recording reflects Marthinsen’s interest in such figures as Batman and The Joker, as well as classic fairy tales. The title symphony, his second, draws on Mexican, Arabian and Chinese themes, then reworks them to create something highly modern, yet accessible. A Batman Concerto uses trombones to denote the villains; a reworking of Snow White’s story makes her the villain. Worth exploring.
Download this: Fiesta Mexicana
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
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