Review: Liam Gallagher is many things to many people, and one thing to everyone - authentic. It seems unthinkable we could question the indie roller's motives, or expect anything other than the "meat and veg rock" he described his own work as during a 2018 interview with The Guardian. "Why Me? Why Not" sees him take that mantra to new heights. As an album it's as accomplished and polished as anything this pied piper of the raw and unpolished has gifted us in the years after *that band*, making for an immediately engaging collection of anthems-in-the-making that will have crowds eating out of the palm of his hand as if they'd never seen his hand before, or tasted any of the food he's been feeding them for years now. And therein lies the reason it remains impossible to criticise this undeniably upfront British songwriter. Enough said.
Review: Eight albums in and !!! are still as hard to define than the band's name is difficult to say. They've always managed to resonate with the sound and zeitgeist of the year in which they release, and "Wallop" doesn't differ from that modus. An amalgamation of tones at once uptempo and hedonistic yet brutally damaged, it's an electronic album built in the way the genres it pays homage to originally were - blueprint free. We've got dance-rock crossovers, straight up techno (albeit aimed squarely at non-die-hard-heads) and bouncing broken funk-house hybrids, so what more do you want? "Couldn't Have Known" nods to classic Basement Jaxx. "Domino" takes us down an IDM wormhole, where we meet the aptly titled "Ur Paranoid" and its pulsating intensity. Simultaneously referencing Primal Scream, trip hop, Madchester, whatever that track that set the club off last night was while sounding like none of the above, it's archetypal !!! business.
Review: Given that five years has passed since the last HTRK full-length, "Psychic 9-5 Club", it's perhaps not that surprising that the duo's new album, "Venus In Leo" sounds notably different from its predecessors. While the pair's emotionally charged, melancholic approach remains in tact, the dubbed-out downtempo pop that marked out "Psychic 9-5 Club" has been replaced by a drowsier, ethereal sound seemingly inspired by a mixture of the Cocteau Twins, The Durutti Column, Massive Attack's "Mezzanine", David Lynch film soundtracks and sunrise-ready, slow motion dream pop. The results are uniformly inspired, with Jonnine Standish's heart-felt, soft focus vocals sounding particularly emotive and evocative this time round.
Review: Troubadour for the dejected, rejected, never-did-fits, Ezra Furman deserves to be ranked among the greatest songwriters of our time. On "Twelve Nudes" he takes the hard-learnt lessons of previous records and channels that anger, desperation, euphoria, fear and hope into an impassioned call to arms - his finest since "Perpetual Motion People". In many ways, this is a far more positive outing, too, or at least one that largely keeps the focus on big noise. "My Teeth Hurt" and "Thermometer" are ferocious, head-banging whirlwinds. "Evening Prayer aka Justice" throws fists to the air with protest-esque pride. "Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone" offers Northern Soul-leaning drums and rhythms. Of course, there's still room for freaky, introspective rockabilly melancholia - namely "I Wanna be Your Girlfriend". Like Furman himself on-stage, it's unashamed and unwilling to compromise, making for one of this year's finest bloody-lipped, sweat-soaked rock 'n' roll records.
Review: 213 was something of a supergroup formed in America's west coast soul scene. Powerhouses such as Bill Meyers, Guy Thomas and Neil Stubenhaus were all involved in the making of this album from 1981, which never actually saw the light of day at the time, but is now presented for the first time by Norwegian record label Preservation. It's sentimental material for lazy Sunday mornings, with emotive vocals backed by soaring strings and uplifting chords. There are more reflective moments like "Good Friends" next to swaying singings like "Ohio" and together they add up to a smooth listen.
Review: The Utopia Strong might be the most unlikely combination of musical elements imaginable. Coil's Michael J. York, Kavus Torabi of Gong note, the vocals of Miranda Sex Garden's Katharine Blake (albeit rendered almost unrecognisable), a modular synth and, snooker god Steve Davis. But those who know the cue-wielding deity's reputation as a techno, soul, funk, jazz and progressive rock aficionado will understand this one has been a long time coming. So, what do the results sound like? Well, a mixed bag, but all otherworldly and surreal. "Konta Chorus" marries the whirring of machine loops with trippy guitar reverberations, timeless string arpeggios and hypnotic wind sections. "Brainsurgeons 3", running close to 11-minutes, is an epic space-age marriage of techno and sci-fi. Meanwhile, the appropriately named "Moonchild" closes the album out on lengthy refrains of disharmony and subtle, nymph-ish lyrical whispers. A trip and a half.
Review: While Juan MacLean, LCD Soundsystem's Nancy Whang and Holy Ghost!'s Nick Millhiser have always had one eye on the dancefloor, their albums have tended to be slightly more eccentric and esoteric affairs that lack some of the sparkle associated with their more joyous, club-ready cuts. It's perhaps for this reason that they've spent the last six years releasing DJ-friendly 12" singles, thus avoiding making a new album altogether. In hindsight, it seems a wise choice because "The Brighter The Light" - a compilation of those dancefloor-focused releases shot through with references to various vintage club styles and bottom-end weight to match - is their most vibrant, colourful and enjoyable full-length to date.