Its festival season and the releases just keep coming and coming, some big ones this month and one that has actually got me seething. More of that later but lets start with the good.
Album of the Month – Wolf Alice My Love is Cool
A stunning debut from the London group, who I saw last summer at Reading and I was impressed at the time. One of the joys of this record is that they don’t simply stick to one genre. The music flits between light and airy and can rock it up on the next track. So if its not the summer sounds of Freazy then what you are getting is the, almost Foo Fighter esq, Fluffy. Wolf Alice are the band that could well break through in 2015 and on this debut it’ll be richly deserved.
Being a breakthrough artist is something that Florence + the Machine will once remember. Amazingly whilst they seem to have been around forever, Florence Welch has only just released her third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The first noticeable thing on hearing this is how the Harp has all but vanished, all the other Flo trademarks are there, big powerful choruses, wailing, shrill singing that she has so successfully implemented before. The familiarity is probably no more noticeable on opening track Ship to Wreck. But the stand out track here is the title track. Her stock continues to rise, the headline (all be it by default) at Glastonbury can only serve to help her career. She can now safely say she isn’t just remembered for her cover of You’ve Got the Love.
Deciding to go it alone for a second time Jamie XX has managed to improve on the sound of his band. A soundtrack for a chilled summer In Colour provides him with the opportunity to chill, add to the soundtrack of ambient music with odd talk overs, old fashioned drum and bass and relaxed dance floor fillers. It certainly would be a perfect filler for a summer sunset on a cornish beach!
One band that have quietly gone about just being quite excellent are Everything Everything. Their career has not followed the arc of Alt-J who both started with a great debut album, but where as the latter have managed to turn themselves into one huge act, the former has just kept the music of a high quality but one that will not be listened to by the huge numbers they deserve. Maybe third album Get to Heaven will finally push them into the same levels. It certainly will help, its a superb effort all round. Full of great sing along choruses and also filled with sounds that would not seem out of place in a Radiohead record! Distant Past perfectly captures this, on any other month this would have been Album of the month. It deserves to be.
Combined ‘supergroups’ often struggle to produce in quality what you’d expect, some of them – usually featuring Mick Jagger – are just plain awful. So the concept of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks joining forces for F.F.S. could have gone horribly wrong. It hasn’t. In fact its a triumph. Utilising the very best bits of both bands it gives a sound almost unique. Some tracks are purely Sparks through and through – Dictator’s Son – a perfect example of this, others clearly show how Franz Ferdinand’s sound has been cleverly used and even added to. With Alex and Ron sharing singing duties the contrast is quite spectacular. And whilst they may sing Collaborations Don’t Work it is safe to say in this case it sure as hell does. Whilst the album F.F.S. doesn’t feature each others songs, their live sets do. And that is even better!
It takes an awful lot musically to make me very angry, even the very thought of the Khazi Chiefs doesn’t raise my ire. But towards the end of the latest Muse album Drones has made me very cross indeed.
Allow me to explain. I am about to move to Cornwall, in fact very close to Helston. You’ll know Helston, its where they have the Floral Dance every year. Now many of us will know this song because Terry Wogan once sung over the song. But, I suspect, the locals really do not like what he has done, the mockery it has made of their ancient tradition. And, to be fair, it is a travesty so you cannot blame them. If this is bad, what Muse have done is far, far worse. I doubt anyone will disagree with me that Elgar’s Nimrod is one, if not THE most powerful song, that draws nothing but the emotion and dignity of the Remembrance Day ceremony. It is a song that moves me to tears.
To hear it stuck at the back end of yet another attempt from Muse to re-write Bohemian Rhapsody has really made me cross indeed. The fact they then add words has assured me that I will never listen to the offending track The Globalist again.
Its a shame as until that point it seemed clear that their attempts to finally allow Brian May to retire were back on track after a couple of disappointing records. But this moment has tarnished it for me. I urge anyone who cares about the importance of music to never listen to this utter bilge with me.