January 2015 – Album review round up

Been pretty busy this year so far so haven’t had time to post much. However it doesn’t mean I have not been listening to music and already this year there has been some interesting stuff to discuss.

Album of the Month – The Charlatans Modern Nature

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I may have been born and bred in Portsmouth but musically Manchester is my spiritual home. Ever since, as a lad, I heard Blue Monday I have been hooked by the cities music, some of the very best music made has come from there and the sheer volume of great bands from the city that I love means that it’s always somewhere I feel I belong. A city that has give us Joy Division, New Order, The Fall, Stone Roses, The Smiths, Oasis, Happy Mondays, James, Inspiral Carpets, Doves and, of course, the wonderful elbow really has got a great musical heritige. The Charlatans are very much part of that.

Having been around since 1990 they have seen their share of high points (The Only One I Know, Tellin’ Stories) and low points (prison sentences and car crashes) and continue to produce some great music. Their latest effort is amongst their very best. It’s a glorious slice of relaxed pop and a fitting tribute to the late Jon Brookes who sadly passed away in 2013.

My first reaction when hearing this was how much it reminded me of Screamadelica which is encouraging to say the least. Talking in Tones has an almost psychedelic feel to start things off. So Oh is a delightful piece of pop that will grace many a festival this summer. There is nothing weak about this record and on Keep Enough the band give a stunning lament to an absent friend.

I cannot recommend this record highly enough, this is the work of a band who have come together under the worst possible circumstances but what they have produced is as good as anything they have done until now. As Tim Burgess sings on one of the bonus tracks on the stunning gold vinyl

I don’t care how history rates me so long as you stick by me

You have to say that with more music like this people will stick with them for some time to come. This is going to be one of he albums of 2015 and I cannot wait to hear it on a warm summers evening where I fell it’ll really feel just perfect.

Other Releases

I first saw Rae Morris open up for Bombay Bicycle Club in portsmouth, despite playing to a sparse crowd and being just alone with her piano, it was clear to me that she had an excellent voice and some lovely music. Her debut album Unguarded came out in January so I was excited to have a listen. I’m pleased to say she hasn’t disappointed, this time with more in the way of a band this really is a lovely record. She shows signs of a young Kate Bush with her vocals and the songwriting is strong. I’d love to hear more with just her and her piano personally but this really hints at someone who may well go places and richly deserved it’ll be too.

Sleater-Kinney have not done anything since 2005. Since then we have seen some great all girl rock bands enter the scene. I am a huge fan of Savages, I saw the rather brilliant Honeyblood last year and then we also have seen Haim become pretty big too. But they are back to show the upstarts how they do it on No Cities To Love and it’s pretty powerful stuff too. Full of crunching guitars, beats and powerful vocals this is a band, for whom, the 10 year break was well worth it. Compared to the other records I’ve listened too this month, this one should come with a loud warning.

Belle And Sebastian seem to be around forever, yet you wonder how many people would know one of their songs if it came on the radio. They have just released their ninth album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance and its tremendous fun. A slice of truly colourful pop. In fact it’s like a good version of Eurovision from start to finish with tongue firmly placed in cheek. Invoking the spirit of the Pet Shop Boys in parts this is one if you want to cheer yourself up.

Since deciding to go solo from Supergrass, Gaz Coombes has released his second album. Whilst his debut very much kept the spirit of the band but on Matador things have changed, this really is a man ready to move on. It features some of his finest work and a real variety that ranges from soul through ballards and, even, a hint of Europa. It’ll take a few listens but, this will reward you if you do.

So there we have it, a pretty decent start to the year. Will February keep this going? Well we have Black Rivers, Peace, Dutch Uncles and Imagine Dragons to look forwards to. Time will tell, rest assured I’ll give my thoughts when they appear.

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