Bryan Ferry is a pop legend. A true auteur in every sense of the word, he influenced a generation of new-wave, new-romantic pioneers with legendary band Roxy Music, and continued to reinvent himself as a solo artist. From out and out pop bangers in the form of ‘Slave to Love’ and ‘Let’s Stick Together’, to more experimental records and Bob Dylan cover albums, Ferry is a true artiste constantly reinventing the wheel. His latest record Bitter-Sweet, sees him once again team up with his orchestra and explore the jazz genre after 2012’s The Jazz Age. It’s an atmospheric, smoky affair with Ferry’s sumptuous vocals aligning with the jazzy backdrop with aplomb.
Every year for the past nine years, Jay McAllister, aka Beans on Toast, has released an album on his birthday, 1st December. Beginning with the sprawling 50-track debut, Standing On A Chair, recorded and produced over the course of a weekend by one Ben Lovett, of subsequent Mumford & Sons fame, it was done in the loft of his parent’s house.
After 24 years with Wilco, in Warm Jeff Tweedy has finally got round to releasing his first solo album of all-new material. Following the recent publication of his first set of memoirs, this follows the same pattern of introspection and reflection as he looks as much at himself as he does study the world around him, putting himself and his actions under the same keen scrutiny.
Easily the most hyped and anticipated album of 2018, the third record from Matty, George, Adam and Ross sees The 1975 continue their path to world domination. After a social media and marketing campaign that has taken the art of building excitement and engagement to new heights, it’s now finally time for the band to show they can live up to expectations. Overwhelmingly, resoundingly, staggeringly, they do and more. As much about millennial angst as it is a brutally honest study of a young man on the brink of his 30s, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is out on its own in ambition, creativity and execution.
Too much is never enough, as a Brighton clubbing institution (Dynamite Boogaloo) still proclaims, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. However, with Van the Man, he appears to be deadly serious. This is already his 40th studio album.
It’s been a bit quiet on the Daughter front. Their, hopefully not prophetic, Not To Disappear, was released nearly three years ago, and despite a low key release last year – the instrumental and soundtrack-based Life is Strange: Before the Storm – it’s been very quiet. Then suddenly, just a week before it was due to be released, Daughter’s singer and songwriter Elena Tonra told the world that she had an album to drop. Apparently, this short notice was purposeful, the record only being initially released digitally, before getting a physical outing early next year. There’s nothing like a pleasant surprise, and as Ex:Re (pronounced “X-ray”, a play on “regarding ex”), she plumbs the depths of her soul in ‘documenting’ her recent turmoil following the break-up of a relationship.
Every now and again you listen to an album for the first time and it makes you fall in love with music all over again. Afro Celt Sound System’s new album, Flight, is one of them for me. This is not a random collection of songs designed to fill up 60 minutes of your time or with the aim to launch that next chart topping single. This is an hour of pure musical joy.
“Close your eyes and hold on tight, everything’s gonna be alright!” These aren’t just the opening words to Art Brut’s comeback record Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!, they could easily be Eddie Argos’ personal mantra too. Following the temporary dissolution of the band seven years ago, a new line-up has formed around the charismatic frontman. With births, hospital stays and break-ups, it doesn’t sound like the last few years have been particularly quiet. However, it is safe to say that what began as a ‘break-up’ album turned inescapably into an ‘in-love’ album, for the band and listener as much as in Argos’ personal life.
As any fans of The Smashing Pumpkins who have been following them since their first album Gish will tell you, it’s been quite a ride. Back in the early 90s Billy Corgan had hair and their dreamy pop rock was a refreshing change from the noise bands coming out of the Seattle grunge scene. They also launched themselves with impressive videos for ‘Siva’ and ‘Rhinoceros’ which were so different you might be fooled into thinking they were two different bands. It was this that I, and many others, loved about them. They excelled at rocking out and doing the quite melodic stuff. The follow-up, Siamese Dream, was just as impressive and then, like Guns N’ Roses, they dropped a double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which was about two hours long and was an impressive collection of music. This was also when they added ‘The’ to the name Smashing Pumpkins.
Ed Harcourt has always had a continuous output of releases since his Mercury-nominated debut Here Be Monsters, with six studio albums and two EPs to his name this century. None of his back catalogue is quite as adventurous as this new record, however, with Beyond The End a purely instrumental record which adds another string to his vast bow.