March is the month when things start to get serious, loads of new releases out in this month alone; many of which will go onto be some of the bigger releases of the year.
Album of the Month – Noel Gallagher – Chasing Yesterday
The second solo release for the former Oasis man and there is a step up from his original High Flying Birds album. Opening with the stunning Riverman – including of all things a sax solo – its 6 minutes of pure Gallagher and certainly very radio friendly. In fact the majority of the album has a distinctive Radio Two feeling about it, its especially good with the Ballad of the Mighty I in which Gallagher brings in the guitar genius Johnny Marr to join him. But the influence doesn’t stop there, elements of everything from the Buzzcocks to the Stones can be heard here. Some of the songs would be perfect fodder if he ever gets the band back with his brother. For now though, Noel certainly doesn’t need Oasis as much as his brother surely does.
One artist that could probably be described as an enigma is Laura Marling, so often she tries to release her inner Joni Mitchell but on this occasion with the release of Short Movie she has finally branched out into something a little more ‘fun’. Recorded after going through a crisis and almost deciding to give up song writing, this collection has an air of melody that she has not shown for a while, in fact it is easily her easiest record to listen to full of beautiful music such as Warrior and the melancholy of Walk Alone.
Filling the Folk-Rock void that Laura Marling may have left are The Staves a three-piece group of sisters whose latest album If I Was. Bordering very finely between sweet and sickly, the three of them have produced something akin to spring in a record. And to be fair the three of them sing beautifully, so much that even when some of the more bleak lyrics come on, they still manage to sound almost full of joy.
It must not be easy to be the ‘other Butler brother’ in Arcade Fire but Will Butler has decided to go it alone for a collection of 8 great tracks Policy – a celebration of America. It starts very far away from Arcade Fire with an almost Springsteen like Take My Side, it soon settles into some familiar territory, certainly on Son of God which could easily be sung by his brother. But there is plenty there to suggest that Will could be given a suitably higher presence whenever the band record their next album.
Its been a strong month for the female voice, new releases from Madonna and Bjork keep us reminded that some familiar faces have not gone away. One new voice that really has impressed is Australian Courtney Barnett whose debut album Sometimes I sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit really shows off a great talent, at times grungy, such as in opener Elevator Operator and equally heartfelt such as the superb Depreston this truly is a great mix of quite superb music. One of the better records so far in 2015 and a talent to look out for.
The Cribs returned this year, touring small venues including a brilliant gig at Portsmouth’s Wedgwood Rooms on Valentines Day where they showcased to a very welcoming crowd songs from their new album For All My Sisters. Their second record after the experiment with Johnny Marr ended, this one feels a lot more grown up than its predecessor. Produced in New York by the Cars Rik Ocasek – who also has worked with Weezer. From the opening salvo of Finally Free right throughout until the clever Pink Snow this is the sound of a band having fun and arguably their best record to date. Adding the best moments here to an already strong live catalogue will keep Cribs fans old and new delighted until their next effort.
I’ve always felt that The Prodigy represent brilliantly the angry sound of British Music. On their new album – released at the end of the month – The Day Is My Enemy it sounds as if they are back to their very best. Certainly, for me, this is their best record since The Fat of the Land. Starting with the industrial title track the pace is relentless, there are echoes of Firestarter in Rebel Radio, Breathe in Nasty. It doesn’t end there, bringing in Seaford Mods is a masterstroke on Ibiza. Truly a wonderful and very, very angry record indeed. The Prodigy are back and as relevant as ever.