What more is there to say about Steve Mason, the former Beta Band frontman, who continues to ride high in the affections of a fiercely loyal and musically literate fanbase? After suffering deep depression a few years back, Mason decamped to Brighton, where he still resides, seemingly in a better place, and continues to make remarkably, albeit more upbeat, soulful music: his craft as a songwriter second to none.
If this is the first time that you’ve heard of the Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork, you may be surprised to find out that they have been going strong for over 20 years, since their formation in late 1995, and have recently released their 11th studio album titled Verkligheten.
No Step is the second full-length album from local art rock/post-grunge group Perch and clearly displays a progression in the band’s style, whilst keeping that Brighton band aesthetic that made their past efforts so brilliant.
You Tell Me have forged something bright and bold, a work that largely marries the personal lyricism of Hayes, with the production and multi-instrumentalist skills of Brewis. Low key on the surface, less grand than what we are used to with Field Music, and recorded in a very short space of time, it is still full to the brim with sparklingly short and inventive orchestral-pop vignettes that place melody at the forefront. A minor triumph.
The Twilight Sad are known for their highly dramatic, visceral indie-rock but even these are somewhat lazy labels that make them sound more mundane than they are. Though there are a lot of acts favouring a similar style (and some from several decades ago), there remains something unique about this group of Scotsmen. They are young, passionate and Robert Smith loves them, so just over a decade of hard graft now seems to be paying off as they prepare to release their fifth studio album on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records. The question is: has it changed them now the world seems to be becoming their oyster?
Phoenix is the first album from Seattle’s Pedro The Lion in 15 years. It is, therefore, obvious that it should be named after the mythical creature that symbolises a rebirth of sorts, a new beginning, which is definitely indicative of David Bazan’s creative process after such a long hiatus. Central figurehead for the outfit, Bazan found himself in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, when touring the US alone a few years ago, stopping off at his grandparents’ house. The breakthrough that followed also inspired a visit to the house he grew up in, undoubtedly resulting in the nostalgia that is the dominant theme throughout his new material.
The members of the Wu-Tang Clan have been as productive as ever, with the legendary rap group releasing The Saga Continues last year. Some of the members have also individually gained a lot of attention thanks to more recent releases. This includes Ghostface Killah’s The Lost Tapes, which came out in October, and the release of the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s posthumous single ‘Intoxicated’, celebrating what would have been his 50th birthday. However, now is the time for one of Wu Tang’s most prominent members, Method Man, to step into the spotlight with his newest album Meth Lab 2: The Lithium.
Seadog are a band we’ve been following for some time, the main project from local singer-songwriter Mark Nathan Benton, they’ve released a series of beautifully delicate, folk-tinged melodic indie songs through EPs and stand-alone singles over the years. I reviewed the band’s Transmitter EP back in 2015, a fantastic short collection of gentle melancholia, but it’s always seemed to me that Seadog’s music would lend itself best to a full-length album, and here we finally have just that. Cabin Fever Blues is a collection of ten wintry tunes which Benton recorded with a variety of collaborators last year, in a number of locations between Brighton and London. It’s a solid and consistent effort that tends towards the slow and plaintiff.
It’s certainly an interesting prospect, a debut album from Canadian college room-mates and childhood school friends that’s been ten years in the making and has finally come to fruition. To be honest, this album came as a complete surprise to me, and that’s as someone who has been obsessively listening to the main singer-songwriter, Andy Shauf’s last two solo albums, The Party and The Bearer Of Bad News. Searching for news of new material I found an interview with Shauf in the Toronto Star, where he talked about making The Party. He abandoned initial sessions with a band to start afresh, playing all the instruments himself. Shauf said he’d realised, “It doesn’t work for me to work with other people”, so it was strange to discover he’s had this project on the back-burner the whole time.
In his long-awaited return, Chicago-born rapper and part of the Odd Future collective, Earl Sweatshirt, champions a brilliantly abstract style throughout what is quite possibly one of his most riveting works to date.
Fans had to wait almost four years for Earl to make a comeback after his previous studio album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt, which was released back in March 2015. However, it was certainly worth the wait.